Thursday, July 26, 2012

Martina Hingis having a good time with WTT NY Sportimes

MIDDLETON — Normally, a player of Martina Hingis’ stature and ability will only play in a handful of matches during a World TeamTennis season.

But this summer, for the most part, if the New York Sportimes are competing, so is Hingis, and the five-time Grand Slam singles champion has looked good enough to still hold her own on the WTA Tour.

The former world No. 1 came into last night’s match with the Boston Lobsters with the second-highest winning percentage in women’s singles. She also ranked near the top in both women’s and mixed doubles.

Last night wasn’t her best performance, however. Hingis and Ashley Harkleroad suffered a 5-3 loss at women’s doubles to the Lobsters’ Irina Falconi and Carly Gullickson-Eagle. She was then substituted out of her singles match against Falconi before Harkleroad rallied for a 5-4 tiebreaker win.

Hingis did not compete in mixed doubles, as the Lobsters won, 22-20, at Ferncroft Country Club’s Joan Norton Stadium.

While her memories of last night’s match won’t be rosy, the ones of her days atop the WTA still are.

“Obviously my career was pretty cool to be up there, the No. 1 spot for so long. Playing the (Williams) sisters . . . Jennifer (Capriati), Lindsay (Davenport). That’s always been the best matches.

“Win or lose, no matter what, we’d bring the best out of each other.”

Hingis, 31, retired from the tour in November 2007 when she revealed that she’d tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon the previous summer, although she maintained her innocence. While her International Tennis Foundation suspension was lifted in 2009, Hingis is happy not to grind through a full WTA season anymore.

“Sometimes the (WTA) schedule is pretty grueling,” she said. “I mean, it’s not after playing one or two matches. To win tournaments, you have to win five, six. That’s different. An exhibition is different. You play one match, and then you can take off the next two, three weeks.”

Hingis clearly enjoys playing for the Sportimes, as this is her fifth WTT season. She enjoys the team aspect of the sport.

“We’re all very competitive. Team tennis sometimes gets the best out of you because you want to win for the team,” she said. “And sometimes you’d probably give a little bit more and you’re just trying to fight until the last point. Even if things aren’t going that well, the team is there to lift you back up. It’s pretty cool.

“The tour is pretty selfish, right? You have your team to protect you and everyone’s around you to help you. I’ve always liked the team competitions, whether it’s the Hopman Cup — I never lost a match — or the Fed Cup — I barely lost one match. In doubles, that’s like the teamwork, so I always like that because you have responsibility and stuff like that. Yeah, you just fight harder and try to win the match.”

In a match last week against the Lobsters, Falconi pushed Hingis to a tiebreaker before falling 5-4. Hingis sees similarities between the two.

“I was very surprised that Irina beat Venus (Williams) 5-0 (in an earlier match against the Washington Kastles). She’s the kind of player that kind of fits my game,” Hingis said.

“We play very similar, so it’s kind of like playing your shadow. She’s a very good counterpuncher. She gets no points for free. She gets a lot of balls back and takes her opportunities. Yeah, it’s playing like myself a little bit.”


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