The qualification draw player of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2020, the Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva, answered the questions of the tournament press-service.
How was your first practice session?
Everything went well. I arrived yesterday, and yesterday I managed to practice. It is the start of the tournament now, so everything is still calm, no one is in a hurry. So we calmly train.
How do you rate your physical shape now?
It is difficult to evaluate your shape yourself. An assessment from the outside will be more accurate. Therefore, it is better not to flatter yourself. It’s better to tell the truth, that you need to work, work and work, and work many more times. There is always room for improvement.
You spent the last preseason in Kislovodsk and this one in France. Why?
I spent the previous one in Kislovodsk because I had three free weeks. I managed to go there. I really liked it. But this year I played club matches in France, so there wasn’t so much free time. And I played another tournament in France. I wanted at least two weeks to take a break from tennis and then start training. Therefore, the choice fell on France, plus between club matches it was possible to return there.
You played an ITF tournament in France just now, why did you decide to participate in it?
I prepared, trained for a month and a half, and there were almost no matches. In Australia, I played only five matches. It was hard to acclimatize. But this time I did not fall asleep during the day in France. Therefore, I decided not to withdraw from the tournament, to go and play. I played good matches, and I really liked it.
You are not on the Russian Fed Cup team. But were you invited to play?
I knew that Katya (Ekaterina Aleksandrova), Veronika (Veronika Kudermetova), would play to be able to go to the Olympics. Now there are players at a level higher than me. I think that I now need to focus on individual matches, raise my ranking. Of course, I always come to play for the team with pleasure, and I really like it. The atmosphere is completely different, sometimes you want this team spirit. But now, I hope that the girls will succeed.
How do the girls feel, are you in contact with them?
Of course! Today I wished them good luck. There is always a fighting spirit. Everyone always finds a common language. Everything is always calm, without conflicts. Everyone sets up to win. I hope that everything will be alright. I will cheer for them today.
You recently showed that you are a student again. How do you combine university and tennis?
Yes. I now have a master’s course. I get it based on my bachelor’s degree – the same class: physical education. But in the magistracy, you need to work on a lot yourself in the aspect that interests you. Right now, I had my exams. The university extended the dates to me because I was leaving for Australia and France. When I was in France, I took my assignments along and my laptop, too. I sent works on the history of methodology, on logic, on information technology. I passed all the exams and got the highest marks. Half a year of master’s degree is already behind me. There are still one and a half, and I hope to continue in the same direction.
Do you think this interferes with the life of an athlete?
Some say that athletes should not have an outstanding mind; it is sometimes easier not to think a lot. But I believe that in tennis and other sports this will be useful, especially if you know how to combine chess and movement. I don’t know how to make a decision without thinking about it. And in general, it will be difficult later in life if you miss the stage of studying. Of course, many get an education after retirement. But, it seems to me that it’s hard to come back to education later. In addition, it is easier to learn with peers to keep up with them. If you go to tournaments only for 15 years, of course, you will read books, self-educate, but then it will be challenging to return to university. Therefore, I decided that if it turns out to combine, it is better now. If I ever need this education – great, if I want something else, then when there will be time, on the basis of this education, it will be much easier to get another.
And who will come to support you at the tournament, or is someone already here?
There is my friend from St. Petersburg at the tournament now. Parents and brother stayed at home because brother is currently studying in 11th grade, he needs to prepare hard for exams. Plus, he hopes to get the gold medal, so he needs not to fail, only half a year is left. If I go further (along the draw), then my parents will come. I have relatives in St. Petersburg, so there will be support.
You can watch live broadcasting of matches here https://tv.formulatx.com/. The broadcasting is available only in Russia.
The tournament WTA St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2020 takes place at “SIBUR ARENA” from 10 to 16 February. The tournament is supported by the title sponsor “Gazprom export”.