Getting To Know... Bibiane Schoofs
Published October 21, 2011 08:54
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Already enjoying her best season to date as a pro tennis player, Bibiane Schoofs' season just keeps getting better. This week the 23-year-old Dutch player won through to her first WTA main draw at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, and promptly dispatched US Open semifinalist Angelique Kerber in the first round. Then, she caused another significant upset by beating Canadian young gun Rebecca Marino to set up a quarterfinal date with Britain's Anne Keothavong. Not bad for a player who ended last season ranked No.488.
We caught up with 192nd-ranked Bibiane in Luxembourg, after her defeat of world No.29 Kerber.
How did you get into tennis?
BS: My dad is a tennis coach, and my mom used to play too. But I was always on the court with my dad, because he would take me everywhere.
Tell us about your family.
BS: My dad's name is Theo and my mom's name is Ciska. She works for the army. Last year she changed her position but she used to sell F-16s. I have a brother, Joris, who's 21 years old. He also recently joined the army.
What's your coaching situation at present?
BS: I stopped working with my dad two years ago and started going to the Pro-M Tennis Academy in Utrecht, Holland. So I've been practicing there for two years but only last year as full time. Sometimes I take one of their coaches on the road with me and he's here with me in Luxembourg right now. His name is Rudi Visser. The academy has three coaches, so we're working all together, but with Rudi I've been working more intensely the last year or so. If I go to a tournament and I want to take someone with me, I take him.
How do you describe your playing style?
BS: I like to play aggressive, to work the other player, to push it. Early timing, so not letting the ball drop, while also trying to keep mistakes to a minimum - which can be difficult sometimes if things aren't going well! It all starts on the baseline but I like the net game, so I'm trying to get forward more. But that's a transition. Also, now, as I play against better players, it is more difficult to come forward right away. But it's definitely something I want to move into.
If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
BS: That's a tough one. I would love to have the footwork and movement of Novak Djokovic.
When you were growing up did you have a tennis idol?
BS: Stefii Graf. When I was young, she was the first player my dad said, 'have a look'. I liked the way she played with her slice and then of course the forehand. The combination was something different. That's also why I liked Justine Henin. She's not big, and I'm not big. It's good to see something besides just baseline hitting.
What is your best tennis memory or proudest achievement so far?
BS: Before this week, I was really pleased with my first 25K event I won at Montpellier this summer... then I won another one two weeks later in Holland. Last year I won a 10K and I was, like, wow, come on! And now I'm here and qualified for my first WTA main draw and doing well. A lot of things have happened for me this year and they are all great. I'm getting to a point where I want to be.
What are your goals in tennis - short term and ultimate?
BS: In January I said I wanted to finish the season between 200 and 300, because I was struggling a lot. But after the summer I was Top 300 so I thought, OK, I need to set up something else. My goal was to make the French Open qualies draw next year but now I'm into the Top 200, so I want to see if next year I can get into the Top 100. And we didn't plan it, but now I'm going to go to Australia. Of course, I think the dream for all tennis players is to win a Grand Slam. I would love to win the French Open. No.1 is a far away thing. It's something you hope to achieve, of course.
What was your best success at the junior Slams?
BS: In singles I reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, and in doubles the semifinals at the French, Wimbledon and US Open.
What is your favorite surface? Tournament?
BS: Clay. French Open.
BS: New York.
How far did you go in your schooling?
BS: I finished high school and after that decided to go and play tennis and see how it went. My parents gave me a deadline to achieve certain things, at which point I would otherwise have to go study. And I made it this year. I'm focusing on tennis and training five or six hours a day, so it's difficult to do anything else. For now it's just tennis.
What were your favorite subjects at school?
BS: Geography and history.
When you're on the road, do you have a chance to appreciate those aspects of the places you visit?
BS: For sure it's always interesting to go to new places. Next year I plan to go to Canada for a couple of ITF events. One is in Toronto and I would love to see Niagara Falls. Those are things we try to fit in, but often it's hard to see something besides the courts.
What do you like to do for fun?
BS: I'm a big reader, of science fiction and fantasy in particular. I also like to spend some time on my computer looking at YouTube videos and movies, and playing games.
What non-tennis skill would you like to have?
BS: I wish I could sing and play a musical instrument, to have that combination and be an artist. I like to watch shows where people can do it… move people with the way they you perform. But you either have 'it' or you don't!
Favorite book, singer, band?
BS: I think my favorite books are the Eragon series from Christopher Paolini. It's all about a dragon and the fourth book is coming out in November, so I can't wait. I like to watch different kinds of series but I don't have a favorite film. Singer, Michael Jackson. I listen to all different types of music.
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
BS: In Dutch we have one word for it, but how do I say it in English?
Do you travel with something that reminds you of home, or is a good luck charm?
BS: I wear a necklace from my boyfriend. And I'm always traveling with my backpack… people always ask me if I'm going to school! It's something I always have with me.
If not tennis…
BS: I would have seen how far I could go in judo. When I was younger I did both sports and was good in both - national level. When I was 12, I had to choose - and I chose tennis, although at the time I was No.3 in Holland in the under 15s in judo. But I always said when I stopped tennis I would go back to judo because I really enjoyed it and still sometimes get the urge.