Interview with Eric Van Harpen, the coach of Maria Kirilenko

Interview with Eric Van Harpen, the coach of Maria.  See what Eric Van Harpen says,  about Maria.

vanharpen-kirilenkoEric, you finished the first full season with Maria, what do you think of the season and of Maria?

The season was not bad, but I wasn’t happy either, because we lost too matches unnecessarily. We lost a lot of points and with only 50% of those points we would have been top 20.

Do you think that Maria improved this year?
Maria improved but her desire to improve needs to be bigger, because a coach can only help by telling her what to do, but the player is the one who finally has to decide what to do on court. A coach is responsible for the techniques. If a player has a worse forehand or backhand, serve or volley, than before, you can blame the coach. But if a player makes unforced errors and her positioning to the ball is wrong, that is her responsibility.

What do you want to work with Maria now?
What are the things that Maria must improve on in order for her to play better?
At the moment, I am working most of the time on her forehand because she takes her left hand back with her racket too long and this causes her to hit the ball too late and losing her balance. We are training the open forehand so she has more stability with the stroke and as well her one handed backhand volley. Yuri, her father, tries to improve her fitness.

Maria won three tier IV tournaments this year. What does she need in her game to go further in the biggest tournaments?
To win the big tournaments, she has to serve better and to make less unforced errors. She also needs to take risks and play the big points more aggressively. She needs to work on this especially, because getting far in these tournaments means she will have to beat minimum 2-3 top ten players.

What did you do since Maria’s last tournament?
After the tournament, I went to Bali for 12 days. It was nice and very boring because I was in the beautiful house of my friend alone with 12 people of staff and it was raining 50% of the day. Next year I will go to South Africa to play golf, beautiful courses and no jetlag.

What Maria’s schedule for the next weeks?
Well, I wanted Maria to play Auckland and Hobart (we would have been number 5 and number 3 seeded in these tournaments), but we are going to Brisbane and Sydney where we are not seeded and there is more danger of playing a seeded player in the first round. Next year, there are no byes and I hope that Maria will have a good draw. It’s important to play some matches before the Australian Open.

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