Q: You've been to the NCAA Tennis Championships at the University of Georgia before. What can Anastasia Zhukova expect from the atmosphere there this week?
A: It’s like playing center court at Wimbledon. It’s bigger than any other tournament, any other event; it’s bigger than the U.S. Open. That’s where you want to establish your career or end your career or whatever it may be. They’ve done a lot of renovations over there in the last four or five years and they have renovated the Hall of Fame. It’s always been a great place. They have 12 courts all within viewing of one stadium bank of walls and the atmosphere, the courts are sunk down in sort of a pit area so the noise is surrounded by walls and a clubhouse. It does echo. When you are in a stadium, the noise is magnified. Everything sounds bigger. Having 4,000 people is not out of the question, even 4,500 or 5,000 for the finals. This is only the second year that they have had men and women at the same site for the final 16 so that adds a lot to the atmosphere and gets more people in there. That’s what they are trying to do, make it more fan friendly and have the spectator interest to cover both the men and the women.
Q: Any idea where Anastasia will fall in the draw?
A: We have been looking at the field of 64. She has played 13 players of those 64 in the fall already. She has wins over seven of those 13, and the girls that she hasn’t played, she has watched. She has studied them pretty closely, and going up a little bit early, maybe some of the girls that she hasn’t played will be in the semifinals of the team event or the finals of the team event. We’re going to go up there on Sunday, so she will see the quarters, the women’s semis and the women’s final. Anybody that is in the individual draw that we haven’t seen or haven’t had a chance to scout out; we can just sit and watch. Hopefully they will play three days in a row and be tired if she has to play them. There is really only one or two people who really don’t match up well for her that have a tremendous amount of power that are probably going to turn pro so our draw is pretty promising to get any 62 out of those 64 players that really don’t match up too well. Our goal is to go up there and be extremely positive and happy to be at this event and try to win two rounds and be an All-American.
Q: How many days will she have to prepare before her first match?
A: We will practice here through Saturday. Sunday will be a rest day. We’ll travel and just relax on Sunday and watch tennis. We’ll practice twice on Monday and one light hit on Tuesday and then match day is Wednesday. She has played about four hours a day for the last 15, 16 days. We are actually looking forward to getting on the road and having some rest. We are appreciative of the staff and facilities at McCallie, Baylor, GPS and Manker-Patten here in town who have been tremendously supportive of Anastasia and her career.
Q: How do you plan on replacing Anastasia next year?
A: We will replace Anastasia by getting six girls. Lindsey Ballard, who played No. 1 as a freshman and played No. 2 the last two years behind Anastasia, is going to move up to No. 1. Right now, we are trying to find someone to fill in at No. 2 for Lindsey’s spot and keep everybody in their same positions. I have four girls coming in already, and we are looking for a fifth girl. It will be impossible to replace her, but we can certainly add more depth. Lindsey wants to finish her career at No. 1. She’s played there before and she knows what it is all about. She has been happy to lay low behind Anastasia and win a lot at No. 2. That will be very interesting for her career, finishing at No. 1.