Tennis: Mikheeva courting long-term success

Local Tennis star Anastasia Mikheeva from Edinburgh. Picture: Complimentary
Local Tennis star Anastasia Mikheeva from Edinburgh. Picture: Complimentary
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Edinburgh tennis starlet Anastasia Mikheeva will not be deflected from long-term goals despite having just achieved one of her most encouraging tournament victories.

Anastasia, 13, from Duddingston, captured the girls under-18 singles trophy at the prestigious AEGON ITF tournament in Nottingham at the weekend.

Seeded 12th, Anastasia won through six ties, including a three-set final against fellow Scot and top seed Maia Lumsden, aged 14, from Glasgow.

Success followed another major triumph earlier this year when, representing Great Britain at a Winter Cup tournament in the Czech Republic, Anastasia recorded a 6-2, 6-0 victory over the current European No. 1 player, Andrea Amalia Rosca from Romania.

Despite such progress though, Anastasia’s feet remain firmly on the ground.

Dad Andrei Mikheev, who assists in coaching and guiding his daughter, says even an invite to the Wimbledon Junior Tournament in SW19 this summer would have to be carefully considered.

“It is possible that Anastasia could receive a wild card to the Wimbledon junior slam event (won by Laura Robson as a 14-year-old in 2008).

“However, long-term planning comes first and entering any tournament means having a realistic chance of winning,” said Andrei, originally from Moscow and who stayed on in Edinburgh to raise a family which also includes Scottish boys under-12 indoor champion, Alex, after completing a Phd.

Definitely on Anastasia’s schedule is the annual Orange Bowl, hosted by the US Tennis Association each December in Florida and previously won by Andy Murray.

Says Andrei: “Anastasia went out to play in the Orange Bowl under-14s last December, but the tournament coincided with a growth spurt she was undergoing.

“She lost in the third round and her co-ordination was a problem because she was growing rapidly for her age.

“The implications of this included the way she was striking the ball due to foot positioning and so on being different.

“There was nothing for it but to work through and around February, when the Winter Cup took place, her form really began to improve.

“A lot of work was carried out last winter so that now Anastasia can defend better through using the sliced slot more effectively and she is also hitting short balls a lot better.

“Anastasia’s movement is also improved. Having been to a tournament in Tarbes as well as the Orange Bowl and the Winter Cup Anastasia will, on Thursday, travel to a tournament in Rome followed by an eight-week training block at home. Rough edges will need to be polished before a Summer Cup with GB, but it is possible tournaments at Craiglockhart could be on the schedule before that.

“Last year she played two domestic and one international tournaments in Edinburgh.”

On one occasion Anastasia lost an under-18 final to Glasgow’s Anna Brogan and the near two-year age gap contributed to her being out-muscled.

With physical development high on the agenda a hefty sponsorship portfolio is developing with Babolat, Adidas, the LTA and Bank of Scotland Local Heroes all contributing to keeping the Tennis Scotland Academy student on tour.

Meanwhile, adding lustre to the latest success was the way Anastasia reversed a defeat by fellow Briton Freya Christie in a similar tournament a week previously at Nottingham.

Lumsden missed that initial event, but returned as top seed. “To beat Maia was a notable result,” said Andrei, adding: “She is a very competent player and the final was of high quality.”

As for younger brother Alex, he is subject to the same disciplines in reaching for the stars.

“There is nothing to be gained by chasing ranking points. To be successful you have to keep winning and when the game itself is right then result will come,” says Andrei, who, but for a political boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, would have been part of the Soviet fencing team.