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Getting To Know... Teliana Pereira

In Bogotá, Teliana Pereira became the first Brazilian to appear in a WTA semifinal since 1990. Now, the reggae-listening 24-year-old has her sights set on the Top 100.

Published March 01, 2013 01:30

Getting To Know... Teliana Pereira
Teliana Pereira

Last Sunday in Florianopolis, the WTA returned to Brazilian shores for the first time in 11 long years.

Neatly coinciding with the arrival of the WTA Brasil Tennis Cup was the breakthrough of the country's No.1 player, Teliana Pereira, who 48 hours earlier had become the first Brazilian since 1990 to reach a WTA semifinal.

Pereira's run in neighboring Colombia, at the Copa Claro Colsanitas, was the reward for persevering with the game after a tough few years in which she came back from two bouts of serious knee surgery.

Now at a career-high No.116 in the rankings, the 24-year-old is heading to the States for the Indian Wells-Miami double header, but before then she took a few moments away from packing to chat with wtatennis.com.

How did you get into tennis?
I started playing in my home city of Curitiba when I was about eight. The reason I wanted to play was simple: because my brothers were doing it! Whatever they did, I wanted to do. At that time it was tennis, so I had to do the same!

Can you tell us about your family?
I am from a big family. I have three brothers and three sisters and they all play tennis! Even my father, José, is involved in tennis - he makes tennis skirts. My mother, Maria, is the only one who isn't in tennis - she just works at home and helps look after all of us! One of my younger brothers, also called José, is also a professional. He is 22 and is about 350 in the rankings.

Who is coaching you at the moment?
Actually, it is one of my other brothers. His name is Hernato and he also played professionally when he was younger, although just in South American tournaments. He is 25 now and has been travelling around with me for a few years.

How would you describe your playing style and what are your strengths?
My strength is my movement. I am very quick, and although I try to play aggressive when I can, I am best at running and counterattacking. For this reason, clay is definitely my favorite surface - it's what suits my game and what I play best on.

Do you have a favorite tournament?
Yes, the French Open. I actually haven't had the chance to play there yet, but I have had so many good memories from watching on TV. Hopefully, this year I have a good chance to make the main draw.

Did you have a tennis idol growing up?
Definitely, Gustavo Kuerten! When he won the French Open for the first time, it was such an amazing moment that I will never forget. He did so much for Brazilian tennis and got so many young people playing. At the moment, I love Rafael Nadal. He is a player I admire so much.

What's the best memory of your career so far?
For sure, last week in Bogotá. To get to a first semifinal after all the injury problems I have had in my career was an amazing feeling.

Is there a secret behind your success in the past few weeks?
Not really. Just hard work, I think. In the last two or three years, I have had problems with my knees and I needed two surgeries. It was a really difficult time for me and I stopped playing for a while and even thought about giving up tennis. But, I decided to give it one more go and this time just relax and enjoy my tennis. So far, it is working!

Who has been the toughest opponent you've faced?
The Russian girls are always very hard to play against. They hit it so hard and are very intense. It gives me no time to adjust and I always have difficulty against them.

What are your goals in tennis?
For now, after Florianopolis, I will go to America to play three tournaments. Then after that hopefully I will be in the Top 100. That is a goal of mine, although, for now, I just want to enjoy my tennis and hopefully the results will come too.

How far did you go in your education?
I finished high school, but school was not for me. I didn't really like any lessons and could never concentrate. I always was looking forward to finishing and only focused on being a tennis player. I don't know what I would have done if tennis didn't work out.

What do you like to do to for fun?
I like to surf on the internet, meet friends and listen to music. I like a few kinds of music, but mostly reggae and especially Bob Marley - he is my favorite.

If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Concentrated. Or maybe can I change that? I think, determined. Both on and off the court.

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