Saturday, July 17, 2010

Martina Hingis continues to improve in WTT

ALBANY -- Martina Hingis felt old when sizing herself up against her singles opponent Wednesday night.

Coco Vandeweghe is still a teenager. The 18-year-old was only five when Hingis won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 1997. In fact, Vandeweghe didn't start playing tennis until she was 11, and by then, Hingis had already won all five of her Grand Slam titles.

"I remember when she came back (out of retirement in 2005)," Vandeweghe said. "I didn't catch her in her 'winning slams' days."

It's strange for Hingis -- who made her professional debut as a 14-year-old -- to be the savvy veteran, because her greatest success came in her teenage years. But after the 29-year-old won the women's singles match over Vandeweghe, she didn't feel nearly as old.

"I'm feeling very good about my singles (game)," said Hingis, who has won five straight women's singles matches for the New York Buzz.

Hingis has won her last four singles matches in as many days.

The former World No. 1's experience shined over Vandeweghe's youth, as the youngster committed a string of unforced errors in the three games she played against Hingis before being replaced by Raquel Kops-Jones. It's the second time this season she defeated Vandeweghe, and in both matches the teen failed to win a game.

"She's a smart player," said Vandeweghe, who is the niece of former NBA player Kiki Vandeweghe. "She's thinking two steps ahead of me and I can see her picking my game apart slowly as the games go by."

Hingis' effort in women's singles wasn't enough, however, as the Buzz lost 18-17 Wednesday to the Boston Lobsters. New York (1-7) failed to build off of its first win of the season Tuesday. Hingis started strong for the Buzz with a 5-0 victory, but the Lobsters took control by winning mixed doubles, men's doubles and men's singles.

Hingis and Sarah Borwell were able to win women's doubles, but the partners fell to Raquel Kops-Jones and Vandeweghe in a super-tiebreaker to decide the match.

If there's a bright spot to be found in the loss, it is Hingis. After dropping two of her first three women's singles matches to start the season, she has gotten back into the swing of things and looks more like the player who won five Grand Slam titles.

Once a young star herself when she began winning Grand Slam singles titles at 17, Hingis now relies on experience to beat younger, faster opponents. Still, it's strange for her to be competing against players who were too young to see her in her prime.

Said Hingis: "(It's) like at one point it was me who was 18."

Yep, Hingis may be a veteran, but there's no denying she's still got it :).

Reading articles like these reminds me once again just how impressive Martina was to have achieved so much at such a young age.

It's a feat that seems to be hard to repeat with the new youngsters in the WTA these days.

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