“A bit of hope” – women’s tennis on the verge of change

The very last question annoyed the German team boss Rainer Schüttler. After two grueling tournament days with little sleep and a lot of frustration, the former Davis Cup professional was about to leave the podium in the Prague arena when he was asked for a final answer.

The women’s selection of the German Tennis Association had just lost their second group game at the Billie Jean King Cup. When it was secretly desired to reach the semifinals of the prestigious team competition, Angelique Kerber & Co. failed because of the simply better-filled teams from the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

Disappointment prevails

The 45-year-old was asked whether the disappointment prevailed or the joy that he had discovered and continued to develop new talent. Schüttler frowned, screwed up his eyes, and hesitated a second. “Of course, the disappointment prevails. We came here to play well and to win. And if we lose twice, then we are definitely not happy,” said the Korbacher and pushed afterwards: “The talents we have have here, we’ve known them for some time, they haven’t been rediscovered here. “

The talents that the DTB captain spoke of are Jule Niemeier and Nastasja Schunk. Niemeier is 22 years old, comes from Dortmund and is the fourth best German player after Kerber, Andrea Petkovic and the currently injured Laura Siegemund. The world rankings show her as number 134. Yet. “In terms of play, she is an absolute top 20 player for me,” said Petkovic, who is twelve years older than me. “Jule plays incredible tennis,” said Schüttler.

Talents give hope

This year the player from the Porsche Talent Team reached the semi-finals in Strasbourg and Hamburg. In the defeat in the first group game against the Czech Republic, Niemeier only had to admit defeat at the side of Anna-Lena Friedsam in the decisive double of the world-class pairing Katerina Siniakova / Lucie Hradecka in the match tie-break. They were two points away from victory. Niemeier played so coldly on her debut that afterwards “everyone in the German team was enthusiastic about the double girls”, as Petkovic revealed and added: “That gives us a little hope for the future.”

The 34-year-old, once number nine in the world, was relentlessly confronted with reality in the autumn of Prague. Especially in top teams like Switzerland or the Czech Republic, the number two players are now ranked better than the 76th world rankings. And the grueling tournament chase of the past few months led Petkovic to an improvement in the ranking and a perspective for the new season, but also to exhaustion.

If Kerber, who is one year younger, has a back pain, it will be difficult against an athlete like Olympic champion Belinda Bencic from Switzerland, to whom the Kiel woman lost 7: 5, 2: 6, 2: 6. The days revealed once more: The upheaval in German women’s tennis for the time after the so-called golden generation around Kerber, Petkovic, the resigned Julia Görges and the former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki is getting closer and closer.

At the lawn classic in London this year 18-year-old Schunk from Leimen caused a sensation by entering the junior finals. “She is a super talent and has everything you need,” said Schüttler, praising the teenager. The vaunted young hopes in Prague have not (yet) appeared in front of the press. For women’s tennis boss Barbara Rittner, however, both have “absolutely the talent and potential” to “close a little” the large gap that has arisen.

Stand: 03.11.2021, 12:05

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“A bit of hope” – women’s tennis on the verge of change