Tennis Birthdays: April 1, 2015 (no foolin’)

We celebrate older women today (we are the BEST) as Mirka turns 36.

Miroslava Vavrinec Federer (SUI), 37

7180.fedmirka Tennis birthdays   April 1, 2011The former WTA Tour player is now best known as the longtime significant other, wife and baby mama of Roger Federer. After the twins, Madame Fed delivered … another pair of twins.

She’s constant presence in the stands at his matches, her everpresent smart phone at the ready – who the HECK is she texting to, we’ve always wondered? Although with four kids, she’s not quite the support machine she once was.

Her impressive stamina sitting in the stands, quite pregnant, during an overbearingly hot day in Indian Wells for the final last year was first-rate.

Born in Slovakia, Vavrinec got to No. 76 in singles on the WTA Tourt, on Sept. 10, 2001 (think about that day … the day before …). She reached the third round of the U.S. Open that year.

Vavrinec lost in the first round of her last six tournaments through the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002, and called it quits. Of course, by then, she and  he Fed were already a thing. But she OWNED Rita Kuti Kis of Hungary (on the honour roll for best tennis name ever).

Her best moment was probably playing Hopman Cup down in Perth with her gentleman friend. The two looked like crazy kids in love. But Mirka could hardly play, she looked so uptight. No kidding.

(See, she loved him when he looked as he did above right. So it wasn’t just his legendary GOAT-tential that sold her. ;-)

Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN), 23

Dabrowski-Rosolska_new

Gloucester, Ont.’s own Gabriela Dabrowski, who at one time was probably the best young Canadian female prospect not named Genie Bouchard, celebrates her birthday as a player still struggling to find her place on the pro tour in singles even though in doubles, she’s found a nice niche.

She made her junior Grand Slam debut in 2008 at Wimbledon. And things were going okay. But late in 2009, she made a breakthrough. After playing 6201.geniesmall Tennis birthdays   April 1, 2011several weeks in a row and doing well, Dabrowski won the prestigious Orange Bowl junior event in Miami, beating No. 1 world junior Kristina Mladenovic in the final.

That brought her to No. 5 in the junior rankings.

Then, there was a whole lot of tennis in that period. From the Yucatan Cup at the end of November to the Australian Open at the end of January, Dabrowski played 31 singles (25-6) and 25 doubles matches (19-6). Too much.

Still, she reached the doubles final at the Australian Open juniors with partner Timea Babos of Hungary, where they lost to a Czech pair.

On the pro scene, she has made slow but steady progress. She was at No. 506 on her birthday in 2011, at No. 370 on her 20th birthday. She finally got into the top 200. and has stayed there for awhile, currently No. 175 in singles. But that ranking won’t get her into the tournaments where her doubles ranking, which currently stands at No. 44, will allow her to play. So she faces that dilemma that all good doubles players do.

She’s found a great partner in Poland’s Alicja Rosolska (Dabrowski’s parents are Polish, so she speaks the language fluently). And they have been working with a good coach, Torsten Peschke (longtime doubles star Kveta Peschke’s coach an6131.dabrowski2 Tennis birthdays   April 1, 2011d husband).

At the same time, she’s just barely 23, which these days seems rather too young to give up on singles.

It’s been slow going. And an on-and-off relationship with the national program probably hasn’t helped.

She seems to have fallen through the cracks, exposing some of the flaws in the Tennis Canada program despite all the successes they brag about.There aren’t too many juniors who have won both Les Petits As (the unofficial world championship for the under-12s) AND the Orange Bowl.

Just imagine if Dabrowski, say, had received the transition-type treatment accorded to Filip Peliwo, with his own coach, and everything else that goes with that. And Peliwo is outside the top 300, nearly three years after winning big in the juniors. Dabrowski certainly deserved better based on her junior results. But there are probably many issues behind that whole relationship that we’re not privy to.

Magdalena Maleeva (BUL), 40

maleeva Tennis birthdays   April 1, 2011The third, youngest (and perhaps best) of the three Bulgarian tennis-playing sisters hits the big number.

Known as Maggie, the baby sister reached No. 4 in singles (Jan. 1996) and No. 13 in doubles (Feb. 2004) during a long career that had her playing in Grand Slam events every year between 1990 and 2005.

Her career best was a quarter-final at the 1992 U.S. Open; but the reached the round-of-16 14 other times. Her longevity was all the more amazing considering she turned pro on her 14th birthday.

8233.maleevas Tennis birthdays   April 1, 2011She won 10 singles titles in all.

Maleeva’s last match had been in Oct. 2005 in Zurich, where she lost to Patty Schnyder after crushing Anna Chakvetadze in the first round. But then, out of nowhere, she reappeared four years ago, playing doubles for Bulgaria in the zonal playoffs in Fed Cup.

She and partner Dia Evtimova won all three of their matches in the round-robin without dropping a set. And that included a 6-1, 6-3 win against the very good Polish pair of Jans and Rosolska.

Good stuff. These days, she’s big on causes, both political and environmental, in her native Bulgaria.

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