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Midland Tennis Fans See Potential of 14-Year-Old Czech Star Vaidisova

Teenage Sensation Wows Crowds at Dow Corning Tournament

February 15, 2004       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Nicole Vaidisova, left, shows maturity far beyond her 14 years in doubles action at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic at the Midland Community Tennis Center.
Vaidisova prepares to receive serve during Saturday night's match with Gisela Dulko of Argentina, won by Vaidisova.

      The biggest story in the Dow Corning Tennis Classic has to be 14-year-old six foot tall Nicole Vaidisova, a rising star from the Czech Republic many expect to see soon at centre court Wimbledon.

      Despite the loss in the singles final to Jill Craybas, 29, former University of Florida All American, 6-2, 6-4, wild card entry Vaidisova drew the admiration of fans for her hard-hitting and maturity despite her tender age. Craybas, ranked 98th in the WTA last year, took home $11,400 for her victory; Vaidisova won $6,080.

      Doubles winners were Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson and Asa Svensson over Jennifer Embry and Mashona Washington of the U.S., the latter from Flint. The $75,000 event wound up on Sunday.

      Vaidisova was awarded the Larry Reed Most Promising Newcomer Award as the youngest and most successful player in the tournament.

      Her playing ability lived up to pre-tourney billing as Tournament Manager Mike Woody commented: "Vaidisova's powerful serve and go-for-broke groundstrokes were too much firepower for No. 83 in the world Martina Sucha of Slovakia.

Vaidisova dominated Sucha after a shaky start 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, on Friday night and on Saturday straight-setted Argentina's Gisela Dulko 6-4,6-2 to gain the singles finals.

      "Hubba, hubba," or words to that effect, Vaidisova's coach Ales Kodat shouted from the stands when the teen appeared to falter during Saturday night's match. That was all it took, as the young star constantly looked toward the coach for affirmation and inspiration during the match.

      World champion in the girl's 14-and-under class and 18-and-under Orange Bowl champ, Vaidisova entered the Midland tournament ranked as the 5th junior in the world and in the top 8 in the International Tennis Federation's junior rankings.

      It is only the second professional tournament played by Vaidisova, a junior high school student and protege of the famed Nick Bollettieri tennis program in Tampa, Florida. The young star, who will turn 15 in April, won her first pro tournament, a $10,000 event.

      A National Hockey League fan and sports enthusiast, Nicole also enjoys a more academic pursuit, reading. She was born in Nurnberg, Germany, but lives in Prague, Czechoslovakia and is a citizen of that nation.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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