Getting To Know... Lucie Hradecka
Published August 30, 2009 09:50
NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - At the age of 24, Lucie Hradecka has won seven doubles titles on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour - not bad for a player who strikes the ball with two hands off boths sides, a technique not normally associated with prowess in the team discipline. But in the past year or so the native of Prague has been rising up the singles ranks as well, reaching the finals at Bad Gastein in 2008 and at Strasbourg and Istanbul in recent months. Given such progress, it is surely only a matter of time before a Tour title is added to the world No.61's sizeable collection of ITF Circuit trophies.
How did you get into tennis?
LH: My father and sister Petra played, and they took me to their club. My sister is 10 years older than I am, and for a time she was actually my coach. Even though she now has two little girls she still has a tennis school, in fact.
How far did you go in your schooling?
LH: I graduated from high school and then went to university to study banking management. But after a year I had to give it up - it wasn't really possible to continue if I wanted to be serious about my tennis. You never know what can happen in tennis, so it might be something to fall back on.
You are one of the few players on Tour who hit with two hands off both sides… has that always been the case?
LH: Pretty much. I started playing tennis when I was four, and I think I was only about five when I switched from one hand to two.
Your career seems to have gone up a notch this year. What do you attribute to the rise?
LH: I changed coaches at the start of the year. Now I'm with Jiri Fencl… actually I had been hitting with him for some time, but in January we made it a formal arrangement. He has been around the Tour for ages, and has really helped me get into the right mindset. I think that has made a big difference.
Before the tournament at Istanbul, if somebody came and told me I'd play the final of singles and win the doubles (with Renata Voracova) I'd have said they were joking. I was very tired by the end but very happy with my week. It's great to make the finals weekends.
What do you consider your strengths as a player?
LH: My serve, and my forehand.
What do you need to improve?
LH: I still think my serve can be better.
Do you have a favorite tournament?
LH: I love to play at home in Prague, in front of my family and friends. My second choice would be Bad Gastein - it's a beautiful setting and I have had some success there, winning the doubles with Andrea Hlavackova three times in a row.
If you could play one of the retired greats, who would you like to take on?
LH: Monica Seles. When I was growing up I had a big poster of her on my bedroom wall. It would be a battle of the two-handers! Of course, she is left-handed and I am right-handed.
If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
LH: Roger Federer's slice backhand.
What do you like to do to relax?
LH: I like swimming, and watching movies of all kinds - but my favorite is Mamma Mia.
What are your goals at present?
LH: I'm a little unwell, so right now my goal is to go back to the hotel and rest! [Smiling] Seriously, I'd like to crack the Top 50, I'm the No.3 Czech at the moment, Iveta and Lucie [Safarova] are ahead of me and are playing really well, and Petra Kvitova won the tournament at Hobart. But it would be great to get to a place where I can play Fed Cup.