Zvonareva: Mylan WTT A ‘Prestigious Opportunity’
The road back from a serious injury is a test of character for any athlete. In many professional sports, athletes have the luxury of returning to their team and previous role. Tennis however, demands its players win matches in order to reclaim a place among the game’s elite.
Vera Zvonareva is striving to do just that. Four years ago at Wimbledon, Zvonareva advanced to her first of two successive Grand Slam singles finals and ascended to world No. 2 in the WTA rankings. A mainstay in the top 10, the Russian owned 12 singles titles by the time 2012 rolled around. But a series of setbacks, including a right shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery, derailed Zvonareva. The former Olympic bronze medalist was sidelined from August 2012 to January 2014, followed by a three-month absence beginning this March.
Looking for a resurgence, Zvonareva is turning to Mylan World TeamTennis as a member of the Austin Aces. The 29-year-old will make the most of the three-week season in July, receiving guaranteed match play in a quick, competitive format, as well as encouragement from her teammates.
“Mylan WTT is a very popular league among high level tennis pros. It is a very prestigious opportunity for me to participate in such a competition,” Zvonareva tells WTT.com.
“I think it is also a great opportunity to get back to the competition mood after being sidelined due to an injury. It is a great possibility to experience support from teammates which is quite an extraordinary thing in tennis. Usually tennis players are solo players but Mylan WTT brings a different atmosphere to the tennis court and the excitement of being a part of it is amazing.”
The Aces are one of two Mylan WTT franchises to debut next month. Zvonareva is expected to play a pivotal part on a team headlined by Austin’s own Andy Roddick.
“Andy is a great player and very well known around the community,” Zvonareva says. “Being a part of a newly formed team is a very special moment for me. I know that Texas has a good tennis history. Andy started playing in Austin so I hope we can establish a good team and create a community of Austin Aces fans.”
Before joining Roddick and the rest of the Aces, Zvonareva looks to draw inspiration from a familiar setting: the lawns of Wimbledon. The former finalist will take on fellow wild card Tara Moore on Tuesday in her first match at the All England Club since the London 2012 Olympics. Zvonareva is also participating in women’s doubles alongside two-time reigning Mylan WTT Female MVP and Washington Kastles star Martina Hingis, who will transition from partner to rival come July 6.
“It is an honor for me to team up with Martina for Wimbledon. She is a true champion and I'm really looking forward to playing with her,” says Zvonareva. “I know it is tennis and I will actually have to face her on the other side of the net during Mylan WTT. I will give my best effort to challenge her, but for the next couple of weeks, I want to enjoy playing along the same side as her!”
Regardless of the outcome in London or during the Mylan WTT season, Zvonareva is embarking on this journey with a positive outlook. Having recently earned her Master’s degree in International Economic Relations, Zvonareva’s approach to the comeback is much like her attitude towards studying.
“The game of tennis taught me a lot of things such as patience, determination, discipline, concentration and many other things that are of great value to a good student,” says Zvonareva. “No matter how hard the process of achieving things whether in sports or at school, it is also a process of pleasure and happiness of doing it.”
Zvonareva and the Aces play their inaugural match on July 7 on the road against the San Diego Aviators, who also make their Mylan WTT debut.
By: Matt Fitzgerald
June 23, 2014