Tennis Birthdays: March 30, 2016

Another good crop of tennis birthdays today, including birthday twins Stosur and Ancic.

Samantha Stosur (AUS), 32

Stosur, at 32, surely has some moves left. But it’s hard to know what to make of the veteran Aussie, who seems stuck in some sort of quagmire of uncertainty and, well, purgatory.

Stosur reached a career high of No. 4 in February, 2011 (she was No. 1 in doubles back in 2006). At the moment, she’s No. 27 (a year ago, she was No. 26 and had yet to put together back-to-back victories during the first part of the season).

Losses to qualifier Kristyna Pliskova in the first round of the Australian Open (not Karolina), and Monica Puig in Sydney are testament to her career-long struggles playing at home. She lost her first match in Miami, after a first-round bye, to Julia Goerges.

As well, she has gone through a few coaches in recent years before heading back to the one who brought the best out of her, countryman David Taylor.

She has eight singles titles (and 24 doubles titles from earlier in her career) and over $15 million in career earnings.  She also has a “Grand Slam”, of sorts: women’s doubles titles at the U.S. Open in 2005 and Roland Garros in 2006, and mixed doubles titles at the Australian Open in 2005 and Wimbledon in 2008.

Can you guess who won the 2008 Wimbledon mixed?

Can you guess who won the 2008 Wimbledon mixed?

Long-forgotten fact: Stosur’s mixed win with Bob Bryan at Wimbledon in 2008 finished even LATER than that legendary Nadal-Federer final on the centre court. They played it on Court 1; we hustled over there after the men’s singles to see the end of it.

It was so dark, you couldn’t even tell one Bryan brother from the other during the trophy ceremony. Who knows; they might have given the trophy to the wrong team!

Stosur and Lisa Raymond won 10 doubles titles together in 2006. Ten. And they made two other finals. That’s domination. Stosur played Indian Wells and Miami with Casey Dellacqua, no doubt with an eye on Rio.

Can you think of a top player who has had more heartbreaking losses, more inexplicable lapses of form, more times when the opportunity was ripe for her to step up, and she just couldn’t pull the trigger?

No doubt she’s of the biggest enigmas at the top of the game – perhaps too nice and lacking that killer instinct to take the next step. Perhaps not. It’s hard to know.

Unlike many of the other players who have been in that top tier, Stosur really doesn’t seem t be getting better. If anything, opponents now have a read on her game, know what she’s going to do and what her weaknesses are. With the clock ticking, you just want her to shake things up, maybe pull a Li Na and retool, go for broke, to make a final splash. It’s hard to know if she has it in her.

Mario Ancic (CRO), 32

0574.ancic2 Tennis birthdays March 30, 2011Ancic missed major chunks of 2007 with mononucleosis, and had a recurrence later in 2008 and through 2009. Then, it was his back.

The talented Croat earned a law degree seven years ago and spoke at a sports law class at Harvard before the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open.

By 2011 – far too soon – he was done, after retiring in a tearful announcement back home in Croatia.

8512.ancic Tennis birthdays March 30, 2011It’s amazing that he’s exactly the same age as Stosur. But they’re at opposite extremes in terms of their tennis careers.

The talented Ancic got to No. 7 in 2006. And certainly he was considered as one of the next wave, a 6-foot-5 guy who could move, who could serve and volley, who had everything it took.

On the positive side, his after-tennis career has already been established. And he’s going to have a great life.

We’re betting he runs the ATP some day.

Karel Novacek (CZE), 51

Picture5 3 2 Tennis birthdays March 30, 2011Despite a solid career, Novacek is remembered for two things.

First, he was one of Jimmy Connors’s victims on his way to that surprising semi-final at the 1991 U.S. Open, where Novacek was the No. 8 seed.

Novacek also was one of the first tennis players to be suspended for a positive drug test, after he and doubles partner Mats Wilander got zapped at the 1995 French Open.

Novacek got three months, and that was about it for his career.

He reached No. 8 in Nov. 1991, and won 13 singles and six doubles titles.

Dorota Wozniak Miller (CAN), 40

0513.wozniak Tennis birthdays March 30, 2011Miller is the older sister of top Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, and was a fine player in her own right as a junior.

She was No. 1 in Canada in the 14s and the 16s. But things fell off the rails a bit back then. Miller played in college at Tyler Junior College and San Diego State, and settled down in Tyler, Texas where she’s a married mom of adorable twin girls and her sister’s biggest fan.

Here and there, she’s her sister’s biggest supporter on the road. And when their hair is the same colour (which is NOT the case at the moment!), she’ll often be mistaken for her.

Given their 11 1/2 year age difference, that has to be a kick.



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2 thoughts on “Tennis Birthdays: March 30, 2016

  1. I imagine that readers of the Tennis Birthday blog tend to know the big facts about pro tennis, for example who won the women’s US Open in 2011, but I was still a little surprised it wasn’t mentioned explicitly in the Stosur entry. Certainly agree about the enigmatic part. Her fans must find it quite the roller coaster to follow her. I love her game and she seems extremely likable; when my son asks me who my favourite female tennis player is (he’s into those kinds of questions at the moment), I say Stosur, but she is frustrating!

    • Hey Paul. That’s probably because I originally had it in there last year, got a factoid wrong, and probably just took it all out because I was pressed for time.. I should put it back in. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I think I’d typed “french Open” instead of “U.S. Open” as a brain cramp and someone brought it to my attention.

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