BRD Tennis Insider

Inspired by the current generation of Romanian tennis players, Irina Bara is looking to carve her own path to success

Irina Bara (23 years old, ranked 151) has qualified at the BRD Bucharest Open for the second year in a row. She came to studio to talk about her last qualifying match against another Romanian, Alexandra Cadanțu, which she won 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. “I had to fight harder this year in qualifying (two out of her three matches went to a deciding set) but I’m very happy. I’m the type of player that can turn matches around because I never give up, no matter what the score is. You need a little bit of help from your opponent, of course. There are girls who play well and there is nothing you can do. But when you see an opening, no matter how small, you need to take it.”

“Today the first set was a bit strange because even if I was leading for the most part, I lost it. I was a bit disappointed but after that I decided I was not going to let the match slip away. I knew what I had to do to win and I believed I can do it. I did not doubt myself.”

Does playing three qualifying matches help or hinder players? “On the one hand, winning three matches in a row gives you rhythm, on the other hand, you are not as fresh as you would like to. Conditions are important too – if it’s hot and you play almost three hours like I did today. But we start over, we are used to it.”

Irina is coached by her father and spoke about how they manage to strike the right balance between the coaching and the parent-daughter relationship. “Our relationship is special, he manages to combine the father and coach roles well. Many times, if I have a bad day in practice, he is understanding and doesn’t push me, because he wants what’s best for me. He never pushed me to play tennis when I was a kid. I used to hang around his practice sessions and I was the one who asked him to play with me. I wanted more than one or two practice sessions per week. I liked playing. I started to play tournaments and he realized I was competitive and ambitious and I have the necessary skills. I didn’t play a lot of tournaments as a child, though. Tennis was more of a hobby. I got serious about it when I was 14.”


There are a lot of examples on both tours of parents who coach their children. Irina thinks that’s because there is no one who cares more about you than your family. “My father also played professionally and he understands exactly what I am going through on the court. Not only technically or tactically, but also emotionally. The mental part is very important in tennis.” Would she describe herself as mentally strong? “I’d like to think that way. I’m not very tall or strong, so I need to make up for this. I used to like Justine Henin a lot when I was a kid, exactly for this reason: she was smaller, but she was fast and had a very elegant game. Now Simona is an inspiration for me, and not only me. Everyone should look up to her. I wish I could achieve half of what she has achieved.”

She played doubles with Mihaela Buzărnescu and they got as far as the quarters in Roland Garros. What was that experience like? “I’m friends with Mihaela, we have been playing doubles for a couple of years. We didn’t know if we were going to play in Paris, we were the first on the alternate list. We were really happy when we found out we got in. We played better with every match and believed in ourselves, we had big expectations. We felt we were capable to reach the semifinals, that we belonged there. The defeat in the quarterfinals was painful – especially because it was a close match, 6-4 in the third set. We had won against a very good team the previous round, so it was disappointing. The closer you get to the final, the more it hurts when you lose.”

”I used to like Justine Henin a lot when I was a kid, exactly for this reason: she was smaller, but she was fast and had a very elegant game. Now Simona is an inspiration for me, and not only me. Everyone should look up to her. I wish I could achieve half of what she has achieved.”

What about her goals for the near future? “Goals are dangerous because they put pressure on you. All I want is to stay healthy and to play as much as possible without injuries. Of course I want to be ranked higher, in top 50, and play more Slams, but I think this will come if I work hard and I don’t give up.”

Does she find inspiration from her friend Mihaela Buzărnescu, who’s had an amazing year, shooting up the rankings to number 25 after and injury-riddled career? “You gain a new perspective and appreciate tennis more. Tennis is our job, but we have to take pleasure in playing.”

What about the other Romanian players form the older generation, who are still playing and have had amazing success? “All the girls are an example and an inspiration for younger players. That being said, everyone has their own path, their own rhythm and we shouldn’t necessarily make comparisons. I appreciate them a lot and I would like to achieve as much as they have. I feel I am capable of it.” What is she missing to get to that level? “A bit of confidence and the experience of playing more big tournaments. You need to play the best players to realize you are not that far from their level. The next step for me would be to qualify for the main draw in as many WTA tournaments.”

Speaking of that, what is her schedule for the next months? “I hope to go far here, then I’m playing a WTA tournament in Moscow and then two or three weeks of preparation in the United States for the US Open. I like playing on hardcourt because the bounce is not very high and I’m not that tall, so it’s good for my game. But nowadays, if you want to be a good player, you need to play well on all surfaces.”


Full video via (Romanian)



Editorial Staff | 17 July 2018
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