Tennis Birthdays – Oct. 20, 2015

A global selection celebrates.

In addition to Russia’s Andrey Rublev, who turns 18, there are several other birthdays today.

Yanina Wickmayer (BEL), 26

She’s back in the top 50, which seems like it was a long time coming because when she was just 20, the Belgian was No. 12 in the world and seemed to be a rising star after making the semis at the 2009 US Open and winning an early 2010 event in Auckland, New Zealand as a wild card.

As is so often the case, a lot of stuff happened – notably, in her case, injuries. There also were a lot of coaching changes as she transitioned from the father who made it all happen at a young age, when he took her to Florida as a kid after the tragic death of her mom.

In 2011, she missed most of the second half of the season with a back injury and although she’s been back, the results haven’t been the same. Her 2014 season was one she qualified as “the worst of her career”, as Lyme disease had a major effect.

It didn’t start off all that well in 2015. …

Wickmayer has had a good second half though. She stood at No. 98 when she qualified at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. But with  semi-final at the tournament in Vancouver, she moved on to win the smaller of the two fall WTA Tour events in Tokyo. She backed that up with a semi-final in Guangzhou, China, where she lost 7-5 in the third set to Jelena Jankovic. She’s still dealing with back issues, and a wrist as well – although at this point in the season, that’s small potatoes compared to some.

At the end of 2014, Wickmayer got engaged to her physical trainer, a former soccer player named Jerome van der Zijl. No word on a wedding date.

No word on whether that is going to end up with a wedding. Wickmayer fans will surely be on top of it, but there have been no big rock sightings lately.

Also – she seems to like pink. Sometimes aqua. Most mostly pink.

Amos Mansdorf (ISR), 50

(Wikipedia)

(Wikipedia)

Mansdorf was one of the first players to come out of Israel back in the day (along with Shlomo Glickstein), reaching No. 18 in the rankings back in 1987 despite his relatively slight stature (he was officially listed at 5-9 and 160 pounds). That remains a high-water mark on the men’s side for his country.

His last match came in 1994, a loss to Quebecer Sébastien Lareau who, at No. 123, was ranked about 50 spots lower than Mansdorf at the time.

Mansdorf won six career titles, the last of which came in 1993 in Washington, D.C.

After he retired, he worked as a diamond dealer but never lost touch with the game. He’s involved with the Israel Tennis Centre, works with the national federation’s youth program and was Davis Cup captain from 2000 to 2004.

 

He also has coached, working with countryman Dudi Sela and even, briefly, with Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2012 (joining a long and varied list).

 

Guillermo Perez-Roldan (ARG), 46

Before there was a big crop of players from Tandil, Argentina (Juan Martín del Potro and Juan Mónaco come to mind), there was Guillermo Perez-Roldan.

Perez-Roldan3

A handsome, classic topspinner, he could have passed for Gabriela Sabatini’s brother, Perez-Roldan got to No. 13 in the singles rankings back in 1988 – when he was just 17 years old. That sure doesn’t happen these days. That came after he won back-to-back titles at the French Open juniors.

Perez Roldan - SabatiniHe won nine titles, all of them on clay. And he made 11 other finals, all of them on clay.

To give you an idea of what a determined specialist he was, Perez-Roldan played a total of 378 matches: only four were indoors. Three came on carpet, 21 on a hard court – and 354 on clay. At the Challenger level, he didn’t play a single match on anything but the red stuff.  That’s another thing that probably couldn’t happen today; players can get to the top 50 by playing exclusively dirt – but No. 13 in the world? Unlikely.

Guillermo Perez-RoldanPerez-Roldan made the quarter-finals once, and the fourth round twice at the French Open. He played it eight times in all, played the US Open twice – and never set foot into the All-England Club of Melbourne Park. I think you get the picture.

Unfortunately, it turns out he had another thing in common with his fellow Tandil-ian – a wrist problem.

Perez-Roldan, a lifelong friend of del Potro’s longtime coach Franco Davin, was barely into his 20s when a chronic wrist injury meant his glory days were already behind him.

At 26, he was done.

His father Raul still has an academy in Tandil (the photos above are from the academy’s website).

Yuliya Beygelzimer (UKR), 32

Beygelzimer

(WTA Tour)

The Ukrainian with the unforgettable name is currently ranked No. 196 in singles on the WTA Tour, after having been at it as a pro nearly 15 years.

Her best in singles was No. 83 – all the way back in 2006. But she’s still hanging in there.

She has three WTA Tour doubles titles, with her best doubles ranking at No. 56.

Her first came in 2003, her second in 2005 and then, a long drought until she was victorious with countrywoman Olga Savchuk at Katowice in 2014.

 

 

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