Surf's Up For Andy
Published September 15, 2011 04:11
NEW YORK, NY, USA - While she isn't likely to switch disciplines anytime soon - especially not now she has a French Open doubles trophy on her shelf - Andrea Hlavackova's growing passion for surfing made for a fun day out on Long Island last week.
Seeded eighth at the US Open, Hlavackova and fellow Czech Lucie Hradecka justified their seeding with a run to the quarterfinals. But when it was all over, the 25-year-old had an invitation she was only too happy to accept - as a VIP guest at Quicksilver Pro, a major event on the international surfing calendar.
"Over the last year or so my boyfriend and I have gotten to know Renato Hickel, a tour manager from the Association of Surfing Professionals," explains Hlavackova, who took up the sport last year. "We knew this event was on in the second week of the Open, hosting the biggest surfers in the world, and we had the luck to be invited."
Not only that, on a day she describes as being like a visit to a Hall of Fame, Hlavackova got to meet one of the true legends of the surfing world: Kelly Slater, who has been crowned ASP World Champion a record 10 times.
"He explained to us how waves are constructed and gave us tips for catching them," Hlavackova recalls. "But for me it was just great to see him and all the other surfers in action. I got to know much more about the rules, the way the contest is run and how they judge. It was very interesting."
As well as Torah Bright, who won Olympic gold for Australia in snowboarding at Vancouver, Hlavackova also enjoyed meeting 23-year-old Australian Stephanie Gilmore, four-time world champion on the Women's ASP World Tour. "She really made a great impression on me," says the tennis player. "The way she is so open, nice and friendly - and also excited about tennis life. We talked about her coming to watch the Australian Open in January, so I hope to meet her there again."
So, what of Hlavackova's own surfing prowess - and progress? "To improve my surfing skills I need warm water and nice waves, mild and good size!" she laughs. "Most of the time I get in the water somewhere, it's rough conditions, cold water or small waves!
"This year I've only surfed a few times in Florida between tournaments. But I've started to like SUP (stand up paddle surfing) which is much easier for me. Also, there is no need of bigger waves, so it's perfect for places like Jacksonville, where I am most of the time when I am in the US.
"I think I improved a lot when I surfed day by day in Hawaii last year, with perfect conditions," she adds. "We are planning a great vacation in Bali at the end of the season and I am expecting to get better there - but we will see! Even if there isn't much of an improvement, it is still a great workout and it helps me to improve in other aspects."