It's An Athlete's Life
Published December 09, 2010 12:00
BUDAPEST, Hungary - Agnes Szavay, a two-time title-winner in 2010, has announced she won't be making the trip Down Under next month. The Hungarian No.1, who turns 22 on December 29, has struggled to regain fitness after retiring with a left thigh strain in her first match at Tokyo in September. Although she presented the following week in Beijing, Szavay lost a three-setter to Elena Vesnina - and that proved to be the end of an up-and-down season.
Szavay, who captured her fourth and fifth WTA titles back-to-back in July - successfully defending at home in Budapest and then winning again on clay in Prague - had shown fine form in reaching the semis at Seoul the week before Tokyo. She also reached three quarterfinals earlier in the year, but failed to advance past the second round at any of the majors.
"I'm sad that I cannot go to Australia, but unfortunately I haven't been able to start training so far," said Szavay, who is currently ranked No.37 but has been as high as No.13. I want to enter the new season with a good preparation behind me... I'll play the Federation Cup in February, but I haven't decided on the later schedule yet. I really hope that we'll have a strong team in Israel."
On the upside, Szavay has nevertheless been keeping busy. For one thing, at the end of November she was guest of honor at the fourth annual meeting of the Szávay Ági Fan Club, which for the first time was held in the town of Soltvadkert, where she has roots.
Szavay and her coach, Karl-Heinz Wetter, spent nearly two hours on court hitting with members of the club. Then the group, which also included her mother, her sister, Blanka, and family friends, adjourned to a local restaurant. The interior was decorated with helium balloons, each featuring a message from a fan; Szavay said she was touched by the speeches, and the performance of a popular song that had been rewritten in her honor.
"It was a memorable day, I think it was the best meeting so far," said Szavay, admitting that the party went on until dawn. "I don't really know how it could be better next year, but these guys can always surprise me, so I'm sure they will manage to do it next year too.
"I can't even express how much that meant to me. It's so good to feel all this love and that they know that what I do is sometimes really hard and I have ups and downs, but I have some very good results and it's worth working for."
Szavay's fan club isn't just about celebrating their heroine and having a good time, however. In response to the flood of toxic mud that affected parts of the Hungary recently, the group collected two carloads of food items and cleaning and hygienic products. Szavay, who first heard about the catastrophe while playing the China Open, personally oversaw the handover of the donations to Hungarian Red Cross president, György Habsburg.
Szavay enjoyed her breakthrough season in 2007, when she rose from No.185 to No.53 in the first half of the season, and then to No.20 by the end, having beaten Jelena Jankovic in the final at Beijing.
Last month, as part of celebrations to mark the official anniversary of the November 17, 1873 unification of the cities of Buda and Pest, the Board of Budapest presented Szavay with the Papp László Budapest Sports award in recognition of her role model status.