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Chani toughens up
- Updated: February 16, 2011
By Mark Etheridge
It’s a new-look Chani Scheepers who is in action this week in the Dubai Duty Free Open.
Not new-looking in the literal sense but when it comes to mental attitude and her approach to her trade the 2011 Scheepers is a different player compared to the 2010 version.
This version is a whole lot more comfortable within herself and prepared to venture outside of her comfort zone. To this end a lot of credit goes to KwaZulu-Natal sports psychologist Kirsten van Heerden.
This year Scheepers has already made the third round in the first grand slam of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne and has gone on to beat 26th ranked Russian Maria Kirilenko in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free tournament, a played ranked 42 places higher than her.
Coach Roger Anderson takes up the tale: ” She has dedicated an enormous amount of effort on transforming her mind to allow herself to venture into situations on the court where she feels out of her comfort zone. For example, being more aggressive with her movement forwards and backwards.
“This involves stepping up and taking balls early and coming to net to make her presence felt and constantly put pressure on her opponents. Chani is not content with being 100 in the world, and she knows that as good a ball striker as she is, being a good ball striker is not enough. She needs to move forward and finish the points at net or with a swinging volley when she has her opponent stretched on defense. Top 50 players can play defence and by not asserting your authority when they are on defence will keep Chani ranked 100.”
Anderson says that 26-year-old Scheepers is in a transition period right now. “It’s a question of selecting when to come in and making her presence felt. It’s a daily battle that has its ups and downs but with the persistence and perseverence Chani has it will pay off and the benefits are slowly starting to show.”
After a break following her Australian efforts Scheepers was back in the swing of things. “She destroyed her two opponents in qualifying, they would have been extremely tough opponents last year so we can see that Chani is now talking about what she is talking about what she is doing and what is working. It’s a coach’s dream when the player is so confident in their plan that she is the one saying over and over what she needs to do. It hasn’t happened overnight but has systematically taken shape over months and months of work.”
Speaking on Scheeper’s 6-2 6-2 victory against Kirilenko Anderson said: “There was no luck involved here, just total domination by her total commitment to adopt a new mentality day in and day out.”
As such, Anderson is embracing Scheepers’ next match on Tuesday against the formidable Jelena Jankovic, the eighth-ranked Serbian, in round two of the competition.
“Tuesday is just another day for Chani constantly working on transitioning into a dominant and fearless competitor, win or lose. She really can’t wait to get out there.”