Paris is almost ours!

Tatarstan tennis players created a furore on Roland Garros clay courts

A silver, semi-final and quarter-final — this is the performance of Tatarstan tennis players at Roland Garros Junior Championships. Maria Bondarenko ended her performance reaching the final, Polina Kudermetova stopped in a semi-final and Marat Sharipov finished his competition in a quarter-final. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

A Roland Garros semi-finalist from Zainsk

Maria Bondarenko played in the doubles with Moscow-born Diana Shneider, her teammate in the country’s junior squad. They played against Italy’s Eleonora Alvisi and Lisa Pigato in the final and lost in two sets — 6-7, 4-6. By the way, an international duo one of whom is Oksana Selekhmetyeva from Moscow finished its competition in the semi-final.

Polina Kudermetova also stopped in a semi-final giving way to Alina Charayeva from Samara, another player of team Russia — 7-6, 2-6, 5-7. Finally, Marat Sharipov played with Hamad Medjedovic from Serbia in the doubles, and this pair lost to a French duo in a quarter-final. Executive Director of Tatarstan’s Tennis Federation Yulia Lazareva noted commenting on these results for our newspaper: “I am very glad about the lads who deserved the right to be among the Grand Slam participants due to their game. Marat didn’t make it somewhere, while the girls played better, especially Maria who reached the final.”

Polina Kudermetova also stopped in the semi-final giving way to Alina Charayeva from Samara, another player of team Russia — 7-6, 2-6, 5-7. Photo: tennis-tatar.ru

Polina Kudermetova’s sister Veronika talked about her at a press conference a year ago: “My dad now deals with my younger sister Polina’s career, cares about her training, accompanies her in both Russian and international tournaments. She has good successes, in her age group she is Russia’s first or second racket, she has won big international tournaments,” Veronika characterised her sister.

To be more precise, Polina became a European singles and doubles champion in 2019, while this year she won a gold at the European Cup in Russia’s U-17 team and was third in Federation Cup junior team tournament.

But if quite a lot is written about Kudermetova, including thanks to her father Eduard Kudermetov, an ex-Ak Bars hockey player, the two other Roland Garros participants are less famous.

Marat Sharipov turned 18 years on 9 October. He trains at Tennis Academy with coach Aleksandr Kostanov. He was born in Cheboksary, did sport aerobics and played tennis and chose you know what. His first coach Andrey Karpeyev went to work to Kazan, and Marat changed his place of residence after him. Now he represents Zainsk, a settlement that is turning into a sports oasis step by step. Team Russia’s table tennis member Sadi Ismailov lives there, figure skating, women’s ice hockey develop, now it is tennis’s turn. This autumn Sharipov successfully played in the Russian Championship reaching a semi-final in singles, became second in the mixed and won a gold in the doubles with his unchangeable partner Igor Kudryashov from Ufa. The “Tatar-Bashkir” didn’t manage to play in Paris, as Kudryashov wasn’t there. But Sharipov found another partner, and it is noteworthy that it was a Muslim from Serbia.

Marat Sharipov turned 18 years on 9 October. He trains at Tennis Academy with coach Aleksandr Kostanov. Photo: tennis-tatar.ru

Kazan Maximus

As for Maria Bondarenko, she was born in Tolyatti, the city another athlete playing for Tatarstan Aleksandr Bobrykin came from to Kazan. Maria’s mother Svetlana played tennis, she said that her daughter became interested in this sport at the age of 4 after seeing a game on TV. And six months later she grabbed a racket when her mom took her to the next training. She started playing at 5 and achieved such summits in junior tennis that she was nicknamed Maximus in Russia, as she easily defeated her opponents. Suffice it to say that at last year’s Russian Championship in Kazan Bondarenko won both singles and doubles. Maria isn’t a tall tennis player, this is why she prefers powerful tennis based on great physical preparation.

The family moved to Tatarstan five years ago after evaluating advantages of Kazan Tennis Academy as well as everyday life as there are a coaching staff and conditions for training, food, rest. However, her mother had to sacrifice a bit of her life so that, according to her, the child will feel she has a strong shoulder, there is no trouble in everyday life and she can focus on tennis.

How Russians performed at Grand Slam tournaments

Russian tennis recommended itself at junior Grand Slam tournament a long time ago. We can mention female winners only in singles. The best results were shown at the US Open where Daria Gavrilova, Maria Kirilenko and Lina Krasnorutskaya won. Plus, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who also triumphed at the Australian Open. Yelizaveta Kulichkova and Ksenia Pervak also won this competition.

Vera Dushevina, Sofia Zhuk and Anastasia Potapova won on Wimbledon’s grass, moreover, the last two athletes just recently showed off in the tournament. Andrey Kuznetsov won the Wimbledon title among boys. His ex-teammate in the Russian squad Konstantin Kravchuk told Realnoe Vremya about him:

“He got injured and seemed to end his sports career starting coaching. And it became a pleasant surprise for me that Andrey is back on the court, started with some tournaments, won competitions on clay and then began to defeat serious opponents. We can just applaud his courage because you will wish nobody the problems with the injuries he had”.

While only two young Russians won Roland Garros — Nadezhda Petrova, in the past century, and Daria Kasatkina if we’re talking about relatively recent victories. The clay isn’t our thing anyway, it is a comfort zone for Spaniards. By the way, Selekhmetyeva and Charayeva are now training in Spain, at Barcelona’s tennis academy.

But Kazan Tennis Academy’s courts were equipped with clay several years ago already, where one can play now. Earlier, the courts hosted the country’s championship matches, Russian university competitions. Kazan attracts the strongest juniors in winter and spring more, to European Junior Cup matches, the traditional Yeltsin Cup, this is why the names of other athletes who succeeded at this Roland Garros — Charayeva, Shneider, Selekhmetyeva — are well-known to our tennis fans.

By Dzhaudat Abdullin
Tatarstan