By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
German ace Mona Barthel, who has jumped up the world ranking and is on the verge of the top 30, is looking forward to the 2012 grass court season.
The 20-year-old has risen 173 places since the end of 2010 to become world no35 following her impressive showing as a Porsche Grand Prix wildcard at Stuttgart.
She shocked Eastbourne 2011 winner Marion Bartoli in Stuttgart before falling in a three set thriller to world no1 Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian said after her victory that Barthel was “one to watch”.
Barthel, who is very likely to play in the London 2012 Olympics as a replacement for injured compatriot Andrea Petkovic, could prove to be an outsider at Eastbourne’s AEGON International if she decides to play at the pre-Wimbledon tournament.
Big-serving Barthel, who concentrated on her education before the WTA Tour, said:
“I went to normal school and completed high school in eight years instead of nine, so therefore I naturally had very long school days.
“I really only played tournaments in the school holidays. I told myself at least I have something if tennis doesn’t work out.
“When I was able to concentrate on tennis I’ve improved very quickly. That was not happening aged 18 or 19, like with many other players, but that is perfectly fine for me.
“It’s a very strenuous job that we do on Tour. It’s certainly not easy for girls at 15 or 16 without the parents to travel the world alone.”