2012 CitiOpen Interview: Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova
Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, a doubles specialist with 17 doubles titles, is a lion on the court. She’ll also try to defend her only singles title at Quebec City after the US Open. After watching her argue calls with the Chair while banging her racquet against the metal net post in a first round singles loss to Edina Gallovits-Hall at CitiOpen on Monday, I wasn’t even sure I’d get an interview with her. Not only did I get an interview, I got the serene, happy off-court version of the woman tennis fanatics call BZS.
You had 76% of your first serves as winners in the second set. What happened in the third?
Really? It didn’t feel like it! I wasn’t playing so good the whole match. I was really tight. I was not playing my best. The third set was so fast to Love-2. I played pretty good, but she passed me at the net. I didn’t really believe that I can pull it through.
On opponent Edina Gallovits-Hall:
She’s a tricky player. She puts every ball in the court and you have to be really focused and you have to play really aggressive. That’s what I was trying to do, but if you don’t believe that you can do it, it’s tough to win the matches.
Your doubles partner, Iveta Benesova, is also in singles in DC. Why aren’t you two playing in doubles?
We’re not playing because we’re playing in Montreal next week in qualies. We don’t want to miss the qualies. We were thinking if we play doubles (here), maybe we could go through! That’s why we aren’t playing here.
What do you think of Washington, despite losing your match to a member of the Washington Kastles?
I was thinking about it. It doesn’t feel like I’m in the States. It’s feels so clean. It reminds me of Europe a lot. It’s nice! I didn’t see much, but I went to the White House. The White House looks so small. On pictures, it looks really big, but if you go there and you see it, it’s small.
I interviewed Andrea Hlavackova recently and she talked about your shared home town of Plzen. What are your thoughts on Plzen?
Well, we grew up together. Her father is the one who is tasting the beer and sending it into the world. I love my hometown. It’s a small city and everybody knows each other. I grew up there and I think I’m going to stay there for the rest of my life.
How neat is it to be able to see Pilsner Urquell, your hometown’s famous beer, where ever you are in the world?
It’s great and if I order it, it reminds me of Plzen. It reminds me of home. The beer is unbelievable. I love it. I like to drink beer. Surprise! At least something is in the world that reminds me of home, because I’m never home.
Like the pop quiz I gave to Andrea Hlavackova in Charleston, do you know the four ingredients in beer?
Yeah, but I don’t know the words in English!
I’m sure you’re looking forward to the U.S. Open, having made the doubles quarterfinals there last year.
I’m looking forward, but I still have more tournaments to go before the US Open.
I love New York. My favorite city. I would live there, but we’ll see! I’m going to focus on my singles first.
Montreal, Dallas, Flushing Meadows and Quebec are the next stops on Barbora’s North American summer tour.
FAMILY CIRCLE CUP FEATURE INTERVIEW: ANDREA HLAVACKOVA
By Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
Who was that doubles specialist on Family Circle Cup’s Stadium Court who very nearly took down the world #13, Sabine Lisicki, this afternoon?
Answer: She’s not just a brewer’s daughter.
After going through the biographies of the player field at the 2012 Family Circle cup a few weeks ago, I decided that there was one player with whom I really had to speak. As a lawyer, beer lover, alcohol regulator and tennis fan, Andrea Hlavackova was the natural choice for me. She’s in law school and has a deep family brewing heritage. That would be interesting enough if she weren’t also a Grand Slam Doubles Champion.
When I caught up with the 25 year old native of the Czech Republic on Monday, she had just defeated Irina Falconi and was looking forward to playing Sabine Lisicki in the next round.
“I don’t think I ever played (Lisicki), not even when we were younger. I’m very pumped for the match, It’s clay court, so we’re both hard court and grass court players. I have nothing to lose. I was a Lucky Loser.”
Though she is mainly known for her doubles work with ten titles, she made it clear that she’s here to compete in singles as well.
“I won a Grand Slam in doubles (2011 Roland Garros), so I guess that’s why they call me a doubles specialist. I’m top ten in doubles. I guess I am a doubles specialist, but that doesn’t make any difference with singles.”
After the tennis formalities, it was time to talk business. Beer business. I asked her about her family’s legacy with barley, yeast, water and hops.
My family was 80 years in brewing and my great-grandfather was the General Director of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery (in Plzen, CZE), my grandfather was the General Director, my father (Jan) is one of the heads there right now and he’s going to now become an External Advisor because he wants to slowly retire from it. He doesn’t have a follower in the family, so it’s kind of sad. I’m sure its tough on him right now to deal with the change in career, but he was the General Brewer.
Does she know how to make beer?
I’m not sure if I know them in English. I know the water is important, the sugar is important, the green stuff (hops) is important. I’ve been through the brewery, not because of my interests. My boyfriend was in town and his parents, so we went through the brewery, saw the process, saw the history, so I know a little bit about the process.
She’s proud of the ubiquitous beer. ”I see it in regular supermarkets!”, she said. In case you don’t know, Pilsner Urquell is one of the most famous beers in the world, and 90% of the beers consumed on the planet are based on its recipe. It’s also been around for about 170 years, and her family can lay claim to almost half of the brewery’s storied history.
How important is beer to her hometown?
Huge. Plzen is a beer city, so if you are entering Plzen, my home city, you see signs ‘Welcome to the Beer City’. The factory is huge. You have to take buses to go around it. I’m really proud of my dad. I’m entering the brewery and I’m like ‘Hlavackova’! They’re like, ‘yeah, park where your Dad’s car is, wherever’!It’s a really proud feeling.
When I won the French Open title last year, they were not talking about me. They were talking about ‘Oh, you’re the daughter of the brewer’. Yeah, finally I made something. She’s the tennis player and the daughter of the brewer, not ’she’s the daughter of the brewer’. I’m so proud of him and I had a really close relationship with my grandfather before he died so I really got to know the brewery and everything around it through him a lot, and my heart was in it through him a lot.
Hlavackova is working her way through a law degree at Plzen University.
I have two and a half years, five semesters . I had to stop because it was not possible to make it with all the travel. According to the law, I can only have four semesters off. So this winter, I have to get back into studies. I will definitely work on a special exception and get another postponement because I want to keep playing but I don’t want to lose that. If they don’t give it to me, I’ll try to combine it as much as I can.
Should we expect a judicial appointment in her next career?
I definitely want to get a degree. I’m not really planning to be a lawyer. I would like to be a journalist or something, but who knows? A law degree always helps you. It shows somebody that you were able to finish a really tough university.
You would think that her career would speak for itself on her ability to finish a tough assignment after her Grand Slam success. And today, with nothing to lose, she nearly created one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, narrowly defeated by Sabine Lisicki on Stadium Court by a count of 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.