Getting To Know... Kurumi Nara
Published March 07, 2014 12:13
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - While her Indian Wells debut may have come to an abrupt halt at the hands of Simona Halep on Friday afternoon, Kurumi Nara is unlikely to be feeling too down about life as she packs her bags and sets off for Miami.
It's all a far cry from 12 months ago, when Nara was preparing to do the rounds on the minor league circuit, stopping off in such tennis meccas as Innisbrook, Osprey, Jackson and Pelham. Since then the 22-year-old from Japan has risen more than 100 places up the rankings, reached the third round at two majors and picked up her maiden WTA title.
The last of these achievements came just a few weeks ago in Rio de Janeiro, where wtatennis.com caught up with Nara to find out the secret to her success.
Where did you grow up in Japan?
KN: I was born in Hyogo and I still live there with my father, mother, brother and grandmother.
Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
KN: Both my parents work in medicine and my brother is going to university, although I don't know what he's studying! My father's name is Shungo and my mother's is Satoko. My brother who is a few years younger than me is called Tsubasa. They all play tennis, but just for fun.
Do your family ever travel with you to tournaments?
KN: The Australian Open was the first time my father and mother came with me. It was strange for them because they'd never been outside of Japan.
How did you start playing tennis?
KN: My father liked playing tennis and they would go to the tennis court every weekend and one day when I was about four I went with them.
Can you talk about your coaching history?
KN: My first coach was in Osaka and now my coach is Matsuki Harada. Now I train in Tokyo, where there is a national center, and also Osaka. Lots of the other Japanese girls, like Misaki Doi and Ayumi Morita, are in Tokyo so it is a good environment.
Who were your tennis idols when you were growing up?
KN: Justine Henin - I liked how she played and her one-handed backhand.
What is the best memory of your career so far?
KN: I think last year at the US Open. It was my first time playing there and I got to the third round, so it is still a very nice memory for me.
How would you describe your game?
KN: I move very well and also have good mental strength. At the moment, I don't have so much power and this is something I need to work hard on.
What's your favorite surface and tournament?
KN: Hardcourt and the US Open.
What are your short and long-term goals?
KN: I don't like to think about my ranking too much, but I'm very excited to be playing WTA tournaments, so I just want to stay in the Top 100. Eventually, I would like to get to the Top 30.
Do you have any superstitions?
KN: I have a gift from my friend that I always take in my tennis bag.
What's the best thing about being a tennis player?
KN: I think getting to go to so many countries is very nice.
And the worst?
KN: Not getting to go home very much.
When you are not playing tennis, what do you like to do to relax?
KN: I like to listen to music - Kelly Clarkson and One Direction! - and to watch motorbike racing. Also, normal things like, shopping, talking to friends and going to dinner.
How would you describe your personality?
KN: I think I'm friendly!
If you weren't a tennis player, what would you be doing now?
KN: I finished high school, so maybe going to university. I don't like studying, but I know it's good to do it!