Andreea Roșca: ”I have grown a lot as a person, now I understand things better”
At 19 years old, Andreea Roșca has been through a lot, but things have started to look up this year. She has climbed almost 700 places in the rankings since the end of last year (next week she will be ranked 226) and in 2018 she has had a win-loss ratio of 45-9. This year she has been playing on the ITF circuit with excellent results: she has won four titles and a final in 15k tournaments, made a final and three semi-finals in 25k tournaments and the quarterfinals in a 60k tournament.
Getting a wild card for the main draw of BRD Bucharest Open was only natural in light of her recent results. Andreea played against Claire Liu, a talented American player that won the Wimbledon juniors title last year and managed to win a set against Angelique Kerber on the main draw this year. Andreea won the first set but lost eventually in three thrilling sets.
”I am so happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to be on the main draw here. It is amazing to have an audience cheer for you the moment you step on the court. I felt unbelievable. I was so nervous especially in the first set and I won it 6-4 after a tough battle. Then I wanted to relax, and maybe I relaxed a bit too much and I made a few mistakes. But overall, he level was very high. I felt like a professional out there.”
Talking about her results this year, she agreed that on the ITF circuit you need to win a lot of matches to get points and the matches are not easy. ”In a 25k tournament you can see players ranked 160-170. You need to win titles to get up in the rankings.”
How does she explain her recent success?
”I have grown a lot as a person, now I understand things better. First, you need to enjoy playing and be focused 100% on it, even off the court. Tennis is not only about the practice, but the whole lifestyle: what you eat, how you sleep, how you train. Before, I didn’t spend more time on court than I absolutely had to. Now, my coach has to tell me to stop because I often go 45 minutes over the usual 2-hour practice session.”
Alina Tecșor (Fed Cup coach and former captain): ”She used to be among the best in country when she was 14-16. But she had a lot of problems in the last few years. So in a way, her recent results are not a surprise. She is a solid player, very strong mentally, very competitive. Technically, she is a complete player, with a very aggressive backhand. If she stays healthy, she has the game to crack top 100 in the next two years.”
Andreea: ”I usually have problems against very aggressive players, who hit the ball early and put pressure on their opponent, not giving them a lot of rhythm.” Favourite surface? ”Clay. I grew up on it, I feel good on it, because it gives me more time to think things through.”
What about the problems she struggled with? “At the end of 2016, in a junior tournament, I tore a knee tendon. I had surgery immediately and the doctors said I wouldn’t be able to play anymore. I did rehab 5 hours a day, every day. After 4-5 months I started walking again, after 6 months I started playing. But the whole year was compromised. I tried playing some tournaments, but it was hard, I couldn’t find myself on the court. For one year and a half, I was stuck: I couldn’t go higher than 650 in the rankings. At a certain point, I quit, I stopped playing. After that I also had some family problems and I suffered a lot. But tennis helped me because it took my mind off things, so I started playing again, with a new mentality, more maturity and determination. I changed my coach, I started working with Ionuț Moldovan, who was there for me during the tough times and I am very grateful to him for that. My fitness trainer is Aurel Neagu now.”
What are her favourite players?
”I watch tennis as often as I can and I like Simona for her strength, both physically and mentally. She is a hard worker and I love the way she fights on the court. I have always looked up to Serena, she is a very strong woman; to get to the Wimbledon final after giving birth is incredible.”
Talking about carrying the torch, does she feel the pressure to replicate the results of the current generation? ”I personally feel inspired by them. They showed us it was possible, so they are a positive example. We can watch and learn from them.”
How is this continuity ensured? Alina Tecșor: ”There is a natural chemistry between some players, and it helps that during winter they train together at the National Tennis Center. All our players are 100% Romanian products, coached by Romanians in Romania. Including her coach, who was a very good player. If we keep on doing our job well, I am sure we will keep producing good players.”
What are her short-term goals? ”When I started playing again, I did it because I missed it and it helped me emotionally. I had no plans for a tennis career. By my coach sat me down and told me: ”Listen to me, you can play very well. I know what I’m talking about.” The first step was playing tournaments and getting into top 500. Then I wanted to get into top 250 by the end of this year, but I have already done that. Now I would like to get into the qualifying tournament at the US Open – I will find out on 30th if I’ve made it. If not this one, then another Slam.”
What does she need to go to the next level? “I need more experience at bigger tournaments in order to get more confidence.”
Is she comfortable with all the attention that comes along with playing tennis professionally in a world dominated by social media? ”I like the attention, I like it when people are interested and supportive. I like interacting with the fans, as long as I don’t get many negative messages. I look at it as a reward.”
Alina: ”Nowadays, it is impossible to ignore or to keep the younger generation away from all the scrutiny. It is much better to teach them to filter the information. Professional athletes have to grow up faster than other people if they what to perform, they need to become mentally strong and independent.”
Watch the whole interview here (Romanian) / via Treizecizero.ro