For those who are unfamiliar with Anna Lena Groenfeld, or are befuddled by all the "good for her, nice to see her back, she deserves this" comments surrounding her USO success, I thought I'd take a quick second to bring everyone up to speed.
ALG possesses a huge serve and a solid forehand. She was a top 15 player in 2006. And then all hell broke loose. ALG split with her coach, Rafael Font de la Mora in September of 2006 and let's just say the dude lost his marbles. He made it his mission to destroy her career. He continued to show up at tournaments to harass her and he talked to her opponents to give them tips on how to beat her. Here is Matt Cronin's 2007 article documenting the whole ordeal.
As a result of Font de la Mora's harassment, ALG's ranking plummeted into the 130s and she decided last year to take herself off the tour to take a break from tennis and regroup. She came back this year and has been playing minor ITF tournaments to get back into form and headed into this Open as a qualifier ranked #141. So far, she has taken out Dani H., Cornet, and will take on Dinara on Monday. Cronin has obviously continued to track her progress:
“I stopped playing last August and kept practicing, but not 100 percent because I wasn’t there mentally,” she said. “I started again in February and played Budesliga in Germany and then in June in tournaments and I’ve been playing well. I believed my confidence would come back. I’ve won a lot matches the last couple months. It was hard when my ranking dropped and everything that was going outside the tennis lines and it was hard to focus, but I knew I had to play Challengers but I didn’t care because I just wanted to play.”
Groenefeld said that she hasn’t mentally put aside the Font de Mora fiasco until May, but was able to soldier on. On Tuesday, she wasn’t weeping in remorse like she was last July. She spoke with a lot more conviction, just like she’s playing now.
“Over the last year it was always getting back to me but the final cut was just a couple months ago,” she said. “I already starred playing when the final cut wasn’t done yet , but I felt I was away from it and I could play. I think I’m more relaxed and happier outside the court. It’s not like I’m not running like around like a robot. I really want to make my own decisions now.”
So there you go. Sad to see that jackholes like Font de la Mora are around the WTA, but it is what it is. Good for ALG for dealing with it all with class and letting her play do the talking. Hope she can keep it up.