by Lindsay Gibbs
So, you finally have a handle on all the Germans surging up the rankings on the WTA tour, right? You know all about Sabine Lisicki’s comeback, Andrea Petkovic’s dancing, Julia Goerges’s pronunciation, and Angelique Kerber’s legitimacy. But what about the youngest German in the top 50, Mona Barthel?
The twenty-one year old has been turning heads this year as she has come out of nowhere to grab the #36 ranking, the Hobart title, and nearly take out #1 Victoria Azarenka in Indian Wells. It looks like merely a matter of time before she joins her fellow Germans in the Top 20. Here are the Barthel facts that you must know if you want to keep up with the proverbial tennis water-cooler chatter:
1. She’s from an athletic family. She started playing tennis when she was 3 because her older sister played. Her father, now a Doctor, was a European junior shotputting champion and her mother, a retired teacher who now travels with her full time, played many sports when she was young.
2. She idolizes Steffi. She says that when she first started playing she had everything that Steffi had - the same clothes, racket, and bag. Her mother used to joke that she should be named Steffi!
3. She’s aggressive - on the court. Though she considers her movement her biggest strength, it’s her aggressive and committed play that won her the Hobart final against Yanina Wickamayer.
4. She’s new to full-time tennis. Up until the end of 2009 Barthel was in school full time - it wasn’t until she was done with school that she really committed herself to practice and tournaments. Prior to that she could sometimes only practice an hour a day!
5. She loves Australia. This year was the first time she had ever been to Australia, but she can’t wait to go back and considers the Australian Open her favorite tournament. That’s no surprise as her trip to Australia was very fruitful this year - she came through quallies to win her first title in Hobart and made it to the third round of the Australian Open - losing only to eventual champion Azarenka.
6. She enjoys the competition from her German peers. Though Barthel wasn’t in the German national program in juniors, she has known Goerges and Kerber since she was young, and says that the competition between them all is pushing them straight to the top.
7. She’s mastered the ITF events. Though few on the WTA tour knew about Barthel before this year, she has been making quite a name for herself on the ITF circuit, winning 3 tournaments last year and 2 tournaments in 2010.
8. Her mom is her coach - kind-of. Her main coach, Mike Schürbesmann, stays in Germany full-time. Since her mother travels with her, she is registered as her coach for on-court coaching needs!
9. She’s never been on the Fed Cup Team. Though the German team is jam-packed with talent, it would be a surprise if this statistic rang true for much longer.
10. She’s just a normal girl. Though she has an aggressive style of play, Barthel has a calm demeanor on and off the court. She enjoys the simple things - hanging out with friends, listening to music, and sightseeing. In press conferences, she seems very down-to-earth and friendly. Hopefully success won’t change that!
Photos via WomensTennisBlog.com and Zimbio