Wednesday, March 23, 2011
American prospect Sloane Stephens was a three-time junior Grand Slam doubles champion in 2010, but having celebrated her 18th birthday on March 20, her attention is very much on the big leagues now. A native of Plantation, Florida, Stephens played her first three WTA main draws in last year, reaching the second round at Indian Wells and Bastad, and falling to seeds both times. Currently ranked No.192, the 170cm player takes to the court in Miami on Tuesday, gunning for a main draw berth at what should feel like her home tournament, the Sony Ericsson Open.
We caught up with Sloane during the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, where as a wildcard she reached the second round before bumping into eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki.
How did you get into tennis?
SS: When I was young we lived across the road from a country club. My late stepfather played there every day, and when I was about nine I started playing there after school.
Tell us about your family.
SS: My mother and my brother are in Los Angeles - I live with them when I'm not on the road. My brother Shawn is 12 years old, and he plays baseball. My mom, Sybil, is a teacher.
What's your coaching situation at the moment?
SS: I work with Nick Saviano and Roger Smith, who was my former USTA coach in Carson, California and still travels with me. They are the main coaches I've worked with for the past three or four years.
How do you describe your playing style?
SS: I'm an aggressive baseliner, looking to come in.
Are you working on any particular aspect of your game at the moment?
SS: Yes, everything. Serving, returning, coming in more, approaching…
If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
SS: I would steal Roger Federer's 'tweener.
Favorite surface or tournament?
SS: My favorite surface is red clay. My favorite tournament is the French Open. And my favorite city is… Paris! I love the architecture, the history.
What are your goals in tennis?
SS: Just to be the best player I can be. Not based on rankings, but based on doing my best to fulfill my potential.
Did you have a tennis idol when you were growing up?
SS: Of course… Venus and Serena, and also Kim Clijsters - she is a great person and I love the way she carries herself. They have been my main tennis inspirations through my career up until now.
Who has been your toughest opponent to date?
SS: I'd have to say Vera Zvonareva at Indian Wells in 2010.
Best tennis memory to date?
SS: Beating Venus in World TeamTennis a couple of years ago.
How far did you go in your education?
SS: I'm still going… I'm a senior in high school! And after that I'm going to start at Kaplan University, an online college.
What do you like about like on tour? What's tough?
SS: Traveling such a lot is tough, but I love seeing new places and cultures, meeting new people and being involved in everything.
What do you do to relax?
SS: I go on my computer, I Skype with family, read on my Kindle.
Favorite book, film, music?
SS: Books... the Twilight series; film, I'd have to say Inside Man; music - anything with a good beat!
What non-tennis skill do you wish you had?
SS: I really wish I could sing, and speak Spanish. I need to work on both of those areas, because at the moment my skills are very limited.
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
What quality do you most appreciate in others?
SS: I appreciate people who are considerate of others at all times. Just understanding situations and being open to adjusting and adapting.
Apart from family and friends, what's your most treasured possession?
SS: I have to say a necklace that my grandparents gave me. I wear it the whole time. Every match, all day long. I don't even take it off to shower.
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like it to be?
SS: That's a hard one. I'd have to go with Elton John.
What might you have done if you didn't become a tennis player?
SS: I'd probably go to university. But I don't know what I'd study… right now I can't see myself doing anything other than playing tennis.