Alina & Galina: Making The Journey Together
Published May 01, 2012 12:00
CHARLESTON, SC, USA - Having wrapped up her own playing career at the end of 2010, it didn't take long for Alina Jidkova to rejoin the tour, joining up with Galina Voskoboeva as a coach - and the memories keep coming.
Jidkova's own career was highlighted by three semifinals and four quarterfinals, as well as four Top 20 wins - including a very noteworthy Top 10 win on the indoor courts of Linz in 2004. "I had a good career. I was especially proud when I beat Serena," Jidkova said. "Another special moment was when I played Davenport at the Australian Open - it was the first highlight of my career, the first time when I really saw myself as a professional tennis player.
"I could have done some things better in my career, but I'm pretty happy with what I did, because I did it all myself. I came to the US with just $500 in my pocket, ate little cups of noodles, practiced on public courts - from my age group I was the only one who made it out of Russia. I think I did well for that."
With nothing handed to her, Jidkova learned a lot - a whole lot - in her playing years; she also picked up on numerous coaching methods, not just from living in different countries but also from some of her later coaches, such as Marco Martizi and Norbert Palmier. With such a wealth of knowledge, she found the perfect partner in Voskoboeva, who started 2011 outside of the Top 600 after shoulder surgery in 2010 and basically starting her career again from scratch.
"Galina came along and asked if I could coach her - it was the perfect chance to give everything I had learned to someone else," Jidkova said. "She has always had a great game - she was playing, but didn't know what she was playing for. I wanted to try to help give her a direction and goals to achieve her dreams."
After some great results in their first six months together - the quarterfinals of Pattaya City and the semifinals of Baku - the partnership really broke through at the Premier-level Rogers Cup in Toronto. Having been the last player into the qualies she made it all the way to the quarterfinals, recording her first two Top 10 victories along the way against Marion Bartoli and Maria Sharapova.
"Fitness and the mental side are the main things I've been working on with Galina since we started," Jidkova said. "She was always powerful but was inconsistent throughout a match - if she wanted to play well for a whole match, she needed the fitness to back it up. I also kept preparing her mentally she could do it. All the things we've been working on together showed in Toronto."
Voskoboeva shares those thoughts. "There isn't that much of a difference in my strokes, but we've improved a lot of other things," she said. "Mentally I became stronger and my fitness is better now too. We've made changes here and there and it's making good results. We try to move forward and do something better."
"Galina listens really well and always tries to improve," Jidkova added.
Voskoboeva ended 2011 at No.58, not bad considering she played her first event of the year at No.621. Already in 2012 she matched her best Grand Slam result, reaching the third round of the Australian Open, and she is now Top 50.
Though 27 may have been veteran age in the older days of the WTA, with seven of the last nine Grand Slam champions being 27 or older - including two first-time winners at age 29 - Voskoboeva could just be getting started.
"We joke about the later age - it really is never too late for anything," Jidkova said. "If you have a goal, you can reach it. I'm telling her never to give up.
"It's always hard to tell what the future will hold, but I think she can be a top player. She proved she can beat top players and play at their level."
"Alina and I have goals, but they're not necessarily to win things, but focusing on how to do it," Voskoboeva said. "We're working on what's going on during a match, how to make me play my best and how to beat good players more and more. We aren't focusing on the final result, more the other side of the game."
Voskoboeva and Jidkova have also developed a strong working relationship.
"Everything is going very well," Voskoboeva said. "Alina did it all herself, so she can give me really good advice. We have good communication. We don't fight."
"Galina can be really funny sometimes - we laugh a lot, usually at ourselves," Jidkova said. "But there's always a time to have fun and a time to be firm!"
"After Wimbledon we're going to stay in Europe and prepare for the Olympics," Jidkova said. "Galina has never played the Olympics so she's very excited, and it was always my dream to go there too. Unfortunately I couldn't make it as a player, but now I'll be going there and sharing the experience with her.
"It will be my dream come true."