A fifteen-year miracle from Říčany. Another strong generation of Czech female tennis players is coming

The Czech hopefuls beat British duo Hannah Klugman and Isabelle Lacy 6:4 and 7:5 in the final match in front of a large audience. It wasn’t easy, the Brits overcame the 1:5 loss in the second set. But the Czechs prevailed and deservedly won in the end.

“Now the closest goal is to win a Grand Slam in singles. Of course, the junior for now, but later also the great,” says Laura’s father, David Samson, with determination for Seznam Zprávy . “However, in my opinion, the most realistic is a semi-final. He will definitely go to the US Open. In the fall, he will gradually start playing ITF adult tournaments and try to earn points,” he described the immediate strategy.

Sports Talents of 2023

Photo: Jakub Čaja, Seznam Zpravy, AI visualization

Sports talent of 2023.

Seznam Zprávy is once again on the hunt for the Czech Republic’s greatest sporting hopefuls. Watch the series Sports Talent of the Year. With the experts, we present eight extremely gifted athletes who excel in tennis, football, ice hockey, alpine skiing, rugby, volleyball, athletics and badminton. And last but not least, gifted computer game players.

Jan Stočes, sports director of the tennis association, agrees that Laura is an extraordinary talent in Czech tennis. “Certainly Laura for me, but there are also other people behind her. Last year, our girls in her category won the CE and CM of the teams. There are three excellent ones, but Laura and her Alenka Kovačková are still a little further. The huge hopes of Czech tennis. After the Fruhvirt sisters, Nosková and others comes a new generation of girls who have the chance to play tennis at the highest level. This is a very good news,” says Stočes for Seznam Zprávy.

Laura started playing tennis in Oáza Říčany near Prague, where she lived with her parents and brother 50 meters from the courts. At first she went to tennis just to watch. Then she tried it on the wall and was immediately hooked. “I think it was April 2012, she was four years old and something like that. We had no ambition for her to become a professional athlete. There was no such plan,” said David Samson.

At that time, Laura was modeled on her older brother, now eighteen, Oliver, who also started playing tennis. But then he switched to hockey and is not doing badly at all. At the age of 14 he had the chance to go to Sweden and has already stayed there. So far he has played for three clubs in the Swedish Premier League U16 and U18. According to his father, it benefited him enormously, he had to take care of himself, learn to be independent. And they say he is far from having said the last word in hockey.

Little Laura immediately hooked on tennis, it was clearly a talent. She soon moved from Oáza to Sokol Říčana, where she began training with Eva Kovačková, the mother of her current Wimbledon partner Alena.

Her athletic genes certainly helped her. Father David Samson practiced all kinds of sports since his childhood. From skiing to football and especially to tennis. He also started playing floorball in college. Mom did athletics.

Photo: Getty Images, Getty Images

Laura and Alena Kovačková pose with the Wimbledon winners trophy.

Laura spent her childhood on the courts and spent a lot of time with Alena Kovačková. In her mother’s service, she received professional-level training.

“She started playing baby tennis, they noticed her in Sparta and gave her a contract. Coach Petr Otradovský started taking care of her there. But because we lived in Říčany near the courts, she did not go to Sparta every day,” explains Father Samson.

At the same time, Laura normally attended Magic Hill Primary School in Říčany. It was only two years ago in the summer that her father left for France with her. She won the Open Stade Français, the tournament for the highest category of young talents, the final of which is played at Roland Garros.

“That’s when her career changed and became more professional. She was noticed by a global Nike agent. Not because of the victory, but already during the tournament, because he liked his We got the contract and then Laura won another tournament in France so she got two numbers in a row Both were U14 tournaments but she was only 13 so she actually won a year earlier,” her father describes the change in Laura’s career.

She then headed to the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca. In the meantime, she won the Monte-Carlo Masters, a sort of Tournament of Champions, which she savored thoroughly. And in the fall, she got her first free card from the association in Prostějov for the first U18 junior tournament. She won it right away.

“She’s climbed up the rankings so much that she’s already started playing higher category tournaments to collect more points. Now, if she wants to be good, and she wants to be, she has to constantly improve her game. I think “She literally grew up on the loss, it toughened her up and pushed her. For me, it’s important that at this age she can lose and get something out of those losses and move on.”

The Czech Republic has an excellent system of national tennis centers and major centers. Even so, parents are an absolutely essential factor, without whom it simply cannot be done. We are very grateful to them for their great selflessness.

Jan Stočes, sports director of the Czech Tennis Association

According to David Samson, there is no rush. Tennis itself is only a small part of the preparation at this stage. He still needs to improve his bodywork. It’s about fitness, regeneration. “Sparta and Olympus offer excellent conditions. She goes regularly for massages, physio…”

In the Czech Republic, Laura is now supported as a personal trainer by Lukáš Jedlička, in Sparta by head coach Daniel Filjo. But since the beginning of the year, he has also had a foreign coach, who himself has offered to help. They consult him a lot from a distance, he is more of an adviser, a mentor.

According to Samson, sleep and diet are equally important. “When a tennis player travels, it is difficult with food, but he must look for a diet rich in protein. Especially when the tennis player is waiting, and she is always waiting for something, so she must eat more quickly sugars, pasta, chicken. My wife and I keep an eye on it, and she also supplements her diet with protein shakes.”

What else does Laura need to improve? It should mainly strengthen the legs and the middle of the body. So she can play adult tennis, which is different from junior tennis after all.

Interview? Of course, English

How is she? According to father David Samson, she is intelligent, has a varied game, a good swing. Going forward, his strengths should be serving and forehand. Before, the girls used to hit her with the backhand, but she also moved. He also plays short games on the net. They always admired her for chasing points and not standing on the baseline. She likes a varied game.

“Laura is very communicative, ambitious, goes her own way, doesn’t mess with anything. When she likes something, she does it well. But it’s not just tennis. She speaks good English, school moved her a lot. He has been giving interviews in English since he was 13,” says the father.

By the way, about this school, she studied the eighth and ninth grades remotely, which means that she always came to the exams once every six months. And she made the last ones at the end of June. Of course, he will continue his studies at the Spektrum secondary school in Mladá Boleslav, focusing on the business academy. And it will be remote again.

His daily life is relentless. He gets up in the morning, takes a cold shower, plays sports, then eats breakfast, goes to training or a game, in the evening to the gym, stretches…

She says she likes football lately, even though she’s not very good at it. She was in the drama club at school. By all accounts, she would like to play.

Jan Stočes on young Czech tennis

At the age of eighteen, he had to end his active tennis career due to health problems. He immediately jumped into coaching and went far. In 2017, he was even named the best coach on the ATP circuit. Today the sports director of the Czech Tennis Association (ČTS).

“I think, given the size of our country, Czech tennis is an absolute phenomenon. I’ve been a coach for more than 20 years, now I’m the sporting director, and when I see other nations bow down to us , it’s almost unbelievable.”

It is important that the system of national tennis centers (Sparta, Štvanice, Prostějov) still works in the Czech Republic. Then come the best centers where the best players and coaches are concentrated, which is the main thing. And this system is related to the almost perfect system of Czech tournaments, where Czech points are played. ČTS organizes as many Tennis Europe and ITF tournaments as possible for children and juniors. Next are the ATP Challenger and Future tournaments and the ITF for women. In this way, our tennis players can collect their first points and thus reach and progress in the world rankings. “Additionally, Laura Samson will now move to the women’s system, she will need wild cards and she will receive them from the tennis association. This is an opportunity for her to reach the world rankings.”

She also considers it important for the girls to go through the tag team competition, which is preparation for being able to represent in the Billie Jean King Cup.

And why are Czech girls better than boys so far? “Our guys are picking up too. But usually for the boys, the parents see hockey first, then football and then tennis, which is also a hugely expensive sport. Only the top 100 in the world make a living from tennis, and good, fierce, strong guys run away to other sports. Girls don’t have hockey or soccer leagues, so the prospect of them succeeding in tennis is very tempting. That’s the reality of ‘Today.

“We’re enjoying it. It’s a beautiful world. A lot of people think that someone is always directing you, but what I like is the freedom to choose the tournament ourselves. Nobody tells us where to go , we have to organize everything ourselves. Accommodation, food, flights…”, explains David Samson. At the same time, he emphasizes that he is happy with the help of the tennis association. Let him organize representative trips, where the players have support, because he knows how much money it costs the parents. That he organizes tournaments at home and gives them wild cards, that is to say free cards.

And how much has Laura already earned? It is said that this is a frequent question today. “But the juniors don’t earn a penny. Junior tennis is an amateur sport”, emphasizes David Samson.

John Robinson

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