Tuesday, July 03, 2012 5:32pm
It was cold. The wind was blustery, and there was intermittent rain. It seemed that every possible weather condition was on stage at times, today at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. It was certainly not the best setting for playing a Wimbledon Girls’ Singles Championship match. But, there was Christina Makarova facing Donna Vekic of Croatia, the No. 8 seed. It was certainly an interesting situation for a comeback.
After a brief warm-up, the dripping became heaver, and the match was halted before it even began. The interruption forced the girls to scramble to the junior locker room, which is located at the far end of the facility, at Aorangi Park. When play resumed, Vekic was pushed to earn a 6-3, 6-4 victory in one hour and 24 minutes. It was, by no means, an easy triumph.
In 2011, I had the opportunity to visit with Makarova at Roland Garros, the day after the San Diegan’s 15th birthday. The occasion was special – a belated birthday present of sorts – because it made her eligible to compete in the Simple Juniors Filles event. This year while practicing at the Astrid Bowl, in Charleroi, Belgium, she slipped on the terre battue. The fall made playing in Paris again, impossible.
“I had what is called a distal radius fracture (a wrist fracture) the day before, and ended up getting a cast on my wrist for my birthday (May 29th),” she said following her match with Vekic. She quickly added, “I don’t want to make any excuses, but I haven’t played much since the injury, and I thought my opponent did a good job.”
When we spoke at Roland Garros, she was somewhat shy, and carefully selected her words. Now, she is wonderfully responsive and precedes many answers (to questions) with a “light ‘em up” grin. She also seems to have grown taller.
“I didn’t really have a growth spurt, but I may have gotten a little taller,” she smiled. “I think it happened in March.”
Discussing her performance, she became more analytical and said, “I thought I played pretty well. I had to slice a lot of backhands because of the conditions and my wrist. I was somewhat impressed because I haven’t competed lately.”
Going all the way back to her days as the 10-year-old San Diego winner of the “Little Mo” event, (the competition named for the late Maureen Connolly Brinker), Makarova has been an impressive talent. Her mother, Luda Makarova, a former Russian No. 1 and Fed Cup performer, is her coach. She is also the Director of High Performance at Barnes Tennis Center, in San Diego.
“I missed four junior tournaments,” Christina Makarova said, as a result of her injury. “So after Wimbledon, I may go to Morocco and play a tournament, then go to Turkey for two more. It will all depend on how my wrist feels.”
After that, she will participate in the National Girls’ 18 & 16 Championships, hosted by the Barnes Tennis Center, August 4-12. Then, it will be on to New York for the US Open Junior Championships.
“I think I’m very social,” she said, when asked to describe herself. “I really like meeting new people and making friends. Friends and family keep you happy in life.”
And, coupled with her tennis ability, it is obvious that Christina Makarova has good reason to be pleased.
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