Getting To Know... Maryna Zanevska
Published May 02, 2014 12:13
Having come through the rigors of qualifying only to fall at the first hurdle in Dubai and Doha, Maryna Zanevska finally got over the hump when she reached the second round at last week's Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, in Marrakech.
And while her involvement in the singles would come to an end a few days later at the hands of No.6 seed Peng Shuai, her Moroccan adventure was far from over. In the doubles Zanevska and first-time partner Katarzyna Piter made it all the way to the final, where they came within a couple of points of the title only to be denied by Garbiñe Muguruza and Romina Oprandi.
She was rewarded for her exploits in Marrakech by breaking into the doubles Top 100 and with her singles ranking looking likely to soon follow, wtatennis.com thought it was about time to catch up with the 20-year-old Ukrainian.
How did you get into tennis?
MZ: It's quite an interesting story. When I was six, my mom decided I was going to play tennis, so we came to the sport center but there weren't any people in administration who were responsible for the tennis part. So, on the way back home, a woman came to us and gave us a flyer to go to a gymnastics class. So instead of tennis, I went there. I was doing gymnastics for almost two years, and I had quite a lot of potential, but then I got a serious back injury and I had to stop to doing any sport at all. But as my family are very sporty, I couldn't just sit at home at that young age and do nothing, so my mom took me to another tennis club, which was just a five-minute walk from my house. I started to play tennis just for fun and I loved tennis from the first minute I stepped on the court. After one year playing, I had my first tournament and from that moment I told myself that I wanted be a professional tennis player.
Can you tell us about your family?
MZ: My father's name is Volodymyr and he's always worked for a transport company. He loves sport, and when he was young he played football and hockey. My mom is called Natalia. She used to work in tourism and she travelled a lot, but now she is a housewife. She is also a big fan of sport - when she was young she did ice skating. Also I have older brother, Ruslan, who is 26.
Who coaches you? How long have you been working together? Is there anyone else you'd like to mention who has had a big influence on your tennis?
MZ: I've been practicing in Belgium for the last five years, and for the last two of those I've been working with Geoffroy Vereerstraeten and also Philippe Dehaes, who is giving me extra advice on my game. I love working with them and respect them as both people and as coaches, because they know tennis so well.
How would you describe your playing style and what are your strengths?
MZ: I am an aggressive player with powerful shots. I love to use my forehand and going inside the court and to the net at the first opportunity I get. Also, I love to play with the ball, to make some clever shots, like drops shots. Every part of my game has to be improved, but at the moment I'm mostly working on movement, strength and consistency.
Did you have a tennis idol growing up?
MZ: No, I never had an idol, but I was always trying to take the best parts from every player and to learn from them. For example, I admire Sharapova's fighting spirit, Federer's movement on the court and the Williams sisters' serve.
Best tennis memory so far?
MZ: When I won the US Open juniors in doubles with my best friend Valeria Solovyeva. Even though it's a junior tournament, I still remember every single moment of that week, and ever since the US Open has always been a special tournament for me. In fact, in 2013 I played all senior Grand Slams and it's unforgettable moments like that that stay in your memory. When you do things for the first time in your life, it's always special and you will remember it always. But I'm sure the best memories are still ahead!
Who has been your toughest opponent to date?
MZ: The first person who is coming up in my mind is myself! It's me. Maybe it sounds weird, but it's the truth. Very often we have to beat ourselves and our fears and doubts first.
What are your goals in tennis?
MZ: I think if you ask any tennis player, most of them would answer 'I want to become Top 100, Top 20, Top 10, No.1. I want to win a Grand Slam.' And this would be my answer as well! But to reach a big goal like becoming No.1, first you need to achieve short-terms goals. This is how I look at my career; I want to become better than I was yesterday and from there we will see the results.
What's your favorite surface, tournament and city?
MZ: Surface, I think it would be hard. For tournament, the US Open and Australian Open I prefer the most. I love New York, but Odessa is where my heart is.
How far did you go in your education?
MZ: I finished high school in my hometown, Odessa, a couple of years ago. At the moment, I'm thinking about the next steps in my education.
What do you like to do to for fun?
MZ: It's definitely about spending time with my family whenever I have an opportunity, and also with my friends. As I am travelling a lot, like all tennis players, I miss these moments. I love doing simple things, like shopping, cooking (especially desserts), going to the cinema, taking photos with my friends and dancing.
Do you have a favorite book or film?
MZ: I love books of Paulo Coelho, especially The Alchemist. As for films, there are a lot of them that I like. For example, in terms of older ones, it would be The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. I was and I am actually a big fan of different TV series, like Prison Break, Gossip Girl, Lost, Revenge, One Tree Hill, The Vampire Diaries and many others.
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
MZ: That's a difficult question. Tough to choose. I think I would say creative.
If you could meet anyone in the world who would you like it to be?
MZ: I would like to meet the person who invented Starbucks, I want to thank him for his amazing idea!
If not tennis, what career would you have chosen?
MZ: Architect, interior designer or something to do with advertising different products, companies and stuff like that. I am definitely a creative person so I would do something in this area. Modelling is also something I could see myself doing.
Is there something else you would like people to know about you?
MZ: Chocolate and Starbucks coffee are my weaknesses!