THE SWEET PARTNERSHIP OF BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS AND LUCIE SAFAROVA

In the game of tennis, nothing should be taken for granted and your next opponent or comrade may bring you defeat or success. Bethanie and Lucie blended for the success part.

She came from a large family back in Rochester, Minnesota of two brothers – Chad and Andrew, a younger sister Alison and of course, her twin sister Sania. By the age of five, her dad Tim, an accountant started enriching her life with tennis when she rallied her interest in this racquet sport. But Bethanie loved all sports and was highly competitive, quite ‘tomboy-like’, giving the Mattek family encouraging hopes of having a tennis personality in the family. She turned pro at 14 and soon after created her niche in thinking ‘out of the box’ with her tennis court attire pushed her way into competitive tennis.

Whereas this little lady at the age of three took a interest in tennis and was encouraged by her family and sister, Veronika to dig into the game, if that’s what she wanted in the Czech Republic. Lucie Safarova was a rather quieter persona than her doubles partner but strong willed and determined to learn this sport well. She decided to ride the trails to being a pro and at 15 took the plunge.

Before Bethanie and Lucie came together in 2015 for doubles, just last year, they ahd other partners with Bethanie pairing with Coco Vandeweghe, Sania Mirza and a feaw others whereas Lufie Safarova partnered with friend and WTA’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. But the history of the other partners wasn’t to be and last year Bethanie and Lucie joined talents and strategies to have immediate success. The 2015 Australian Open doubles title was very significant for it was the first doubles title they’d win together, the first Grand Slam and Lucie’s maiden doubles title. The Mattek-Sands/Safarova duo kept their spark alive and months later won the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Doubles title in April in Stuttgart, Germany over the tough Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci legendary team. The following month they became hot on the red clays of The French Open to win their second Grand Slam, after being down a set over the duet of Shredova/Dellacqua. It seems that to win a championship you have to connect personally and professionally and Bethanie and Lucie had that quality. They hit the hardcourt season and out in Montreal won over the Caroline Garcia/Karolina Srebotnik team at The Rogers Cup, where their ATP contemporaries play their matches in Toronto, Canada.

But all of these peaks didn’t come to the ladies without some pits in their career. It was in 2012 that Bethanie started experiencing chronic fatigue, nothing like the usual when working on tour. She was examined and diagnosed as having severe food allergies to 26 items that she loved so dearly but had to give up. Then in 2014, while playing against Madison Keys, she developed a lumbar spine injury and had to retire from the match and tournament; later she endured hip surgery and a fractured left thumb before her successful stint in grabbing a title at The French Open with Lucie. Safarova unfortunately had a few pits of her own as she had an abdominal muscle issue and last year missd the whole of the ‘Asian Swing’ season with a bacterial infection that knocked her out and sent her to the hospital, getting IVs and rest as well as not being able to eat or drink at all.

The pair has had it good this year – 2016 and captured titles at the Miami Open, the US Open and the Asian Swing events of Wuhan Open and Beijing’s China Open. “We have fun on and off the court from the warm-ups to dinners and foot massages. We’re looking forward to comng back” each has said. Lucie is resting up while her partner, Bethanie is playing in the Hong Kong Open, spinning and dicing her way to perhaps a new singles level in China. They have to admit that it was a surprise the casual partnership has gone so long and been quite successful. They will continue their pairing to slice into the few WTA tournaments left, ending this lovely 2016 season on a pleasant and comfortable note!

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