Getting to Know... Laura Granville
Published May 19, 2003 12:00
ROME, Italy - It's been a rapid rise up the rankings in the past year for American Laura Granville, who, like several of her compatriots, delayed a full-time assault on professional tennis to attend college.
That decision certainly paid off for the Chicago native, who attended Stanford University for two years, winning the NCAA singles title in both 2000 and 2001 and being named TENNIS magazine's College Player of the Year both years. After her sophomore year in 2001, Granville turned pro.
In 2002, her first full year on the WTA Tour, Laura made some pretty big waves, qualifying for Wimbledon and beating former world No.3 Mary Pierce en route to the fourth round.
Afterwards, she leapt into the Top 100 for the first time, but her giantkilling run wasn't over by a long way.
Qualifying for the Canadian Open, she defeated Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (then ranked No.26) and Silvia Farina Elia (No.14) in succession before falling to Amélie Mauresmo in the third round in two tie-breaks. Mauresmo would go on to win the tournament.
The following week in New Haven, she again qualified for the main draw, ousting world No.21 Daja Bedanova and Angelika Roesch en route to her first Tour quarterfinal. It took three-time defending champion Venus Williams to stop her run.
Granville also proved herself indoors late in the season, reaching the Luxembourg quarterfinals, beating Sánchez-Vicario again in what would be the Spaniard's last WTA Toursingles match. That impressive week propelled Laura into the Top 50, having been outside the Top 200 at the start of the season.
Laura picked up in 2003 where she left off last year, reaching the Auckland quarterfinals, then her first-ever Tour semifinal in Memphis.
At Scottsdale, she recorded the biggest win of her career to date, upsetting world No.12 Chanda Rubin in the second round before bowing out in the quarterfinals against Kim Clijsters.
By her own admission, clay isn't her favorite surface, but that didn't stop her from beating compatriot and world No.18 Shaughnessy (her fourth career Top 20 win) in the first round of the Italian Open last week.
It just so happened that the victory took place on her 22nd birthday. She fell in the following round to Cara Black in three sets but nonetheless rose to a career-high No.31 on Monday.
At the start of last year you were ranked No.220 but less than 18 months later you're nearly inside the Top 30. What do you put your dramatic improvement down to?
LG: I think a lot of it has to do with just getting used to the higher level of competition on the Tour. Coming from juniors and then college tennis, there is such a big difference between that and playing professionally. The experience I've gained over the past 18 months has been amazing. Getting used to this kind of level took quite a while - playing such good players day in, day out.
Was that transition from college athlete to professional tennis player easier or harder than what you expected?
LG: It was pretty much what I expected. I knew it was going to be a very challenging experience. I had no illusions that becoming a successful professional tennis player was going to be easy, that's for sure!
What have been your favorite tournaments on the WTA Tour so far, and why?
LG: So far, it's probably been Auckland and Wimbledon. Auckland because the city had a lot to offer and the tournament was very well-run. I had a great week there. And Wimbledon for the atmosphere.
And of course getting to the fourth round there last year wouldn't have hurt?
LG: Definitely! That was a great experience.
If you have a week off from playing tournaments or training, what do you like to do?
LG: I like to spend time at home with my (younger) sister Lily. In the summer I love to spend time outdoors with my friends.
Unlike most people your age, at 22 you're well and truly on your career path. Do you sometimes miss the freedom your non tennis playing friends have?
LG: Oh, for sure. I think loneliness was one of the hardest things I had to deal with when I left college to play on the Tour for my first year. At college you have your friends around you and a very active social life, and then on the Tour it's a lot different.
What did you do to combat that loneliness?
LG: It was important for me to keep in touch with my friends at college. Whenever I'm home I like to try and visit them, but they're going to be graduating in about a month and then moving all over the place, so that's going to be something different.
Do you listen to much music? What was the last CD you bought?
LG: The last CD I bought was the "Chicago" soundtrack, but I also download a lot of music. My music tastes are pretty varied, anything from Madonna to the Foo Fighters and the Dixie Chicks.