Getting To Know... Mona Barthel
Published March 05, 2012 10:17
With four players in the Top 20, Germany is rapidly establishing itself as the dominant force in women's tennis. And the conveyor belt of talent shows no sign of stopping; Mona Barthel is the latest product to emerge, with her clean hitting, excellent movement and on-court intelligence already earmarking her as a future star. The 21-year-old has been one of the success stories of 2012 - breaking into the Top 50 and winning her first WTA title at Hobart - and we sat down with her a few weeks ago to talk about tactics, training and Tasmania.
Where is your home town and where did you grew up?
MB: I was born in Bad Segeberg because my dad was working in the hospital there but I've lived my whole life in Neumuentster. It's a small town of about 80,000 people between Denmark and Hamburg and because it's close to the Baltic Sea and North Sea I spent a lot of time at the sea when I was a kid.
How did you start playing tennis?
MB: I started to play when I was really young because my sister, who's about six years older, was playing and I wanted to try too. I always went to practice with her and as soon as I could I got a racquet and wanted to hit. I was probably only about three years old and was playing with the other kids in my age group.
Tell us a little bit about your family?
MB: My father, Wolfgang, is a doctor and my mother, Hannelore, is a retired teacher. We have a history of sport in my family, my father was European champion in shot put and my mother also did athletics, but only locally. My older sister, Sunna, also played tennis professionally but injured her shoulder so stopped very early.
When you were a junior were you part of the national program?
MB: No, I was never really part of the German program. When I was nine, I started practicing in a town about one hour drive from Hamburg and now I practice close to my hometown in Waalstedt and split my training time between here and Neumuenster.
Who were your tennis idols growing up?
MB: Steffi Graf for sure. When I first started playing I always had to have the same clothes and racquet as her and this carried on until I was seven or eight. I loved Steffi so much that when I was really young my mother was saying that I should be called Steffi!
What's the best memory of your career to date?
MB: Winning Hobart definitely. I was also really happy to get to the third round a few weeks later at the Australian Open.
How would you describe your game?
MB: I think I'm good tactically and I like to think a lot out on court. I try to change it up when I can and not always play the same. My strengths are my mentality, serve and movement, although I'm still trying to work on everything and to improve all the shots.
What type of off-court training do you do?
MB: Just normal gym work, nothing too special. In the past I did a bit of yoga but not a lot.
How do you relax away from the courts?
MB: Listening to music, hanging out with friends, surfing internet, watching movies, and when I'm at new cities I like to go sightseeing and to explore new things.
What would you have done if you hadn't been a tennis player?
MB: I think I would carry on studying or maybe try to do another sport. Possibly athletics as I was always quite good at that.
Do you have a full-time coach who travels with you during the tennis season?
MB: No, only my mother travels with me all the time. I don't have a coach on tour. When I'm at home I work with Mike Schuerbesmann a few times a week and I also hit with some of the boys at my club at home.
What's your favorite surface and tournament?
MB: The surface would be hard court, but I like all surfaces really. My best tournament would have to be the Australian Open.
How did you get on at school?
MB: I attended a special school in Germany which let me graduate one year earlier than everyone else my age. During school I only played tournaments during vacation and so no one really knew I was playing tennis seriously. In 2009 I graduated and started to play professionally in August that year.
What are your short and long-term goals?
MB: I don't really like to set specific goals. All I want to do is to keep playing and trying to improve and have fun on court.