October 5, 2016

Annika Beck

(info about Annika Beck)

The rigorous training of a tennis player

Thomas Kieller

Annika Beck: Playing for Germany.

Focused on her goals, Annika demonstrates her skills and her determination when she practices or during a match. The young German player has already shown her drive since she joined the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) in 2009 at the age of 15. She has won two titles in singles, another one in doubles and she has represented her country at the Fed Cup twice. She already had her share of successes by beating, among others, Agnieszka Radwanska, Samantha Stosur and Simona Halep. Her playing style revolved mainly on the baseline where she shows combativeness with her forehand ground strokes. Disciplined and with a true passion for tennis, we can see that her future is bright on the tour.

The interview took place on September 14, 2016 at 16:50 in the press conference room of the Banque nationale Cup of the WTA Tour in Quebec City, Canada.

Prelude – Annika entered the press conference room in a relaxed manner and with a beaming smile even if she lost earlier in doubles with her Russian partner Evgeniya Rodina against the Slavic duo of Jovana Jaksic and Barbora Stefkova.

Fitness of a tennis player

Thomas: Obviously, the players on the WTA Tour are in good in shape in order to play tennis at the top level... Is it something that you like to do, training physically?

Annika Beck: Yes of course. I think tennis overall is a very complex sport. You need a bit of everything: power, you have to be reactive and fast also. It’s important to combined power and be able to react well.

Thomas: You’re just 22 years old. Concerning fitness, you can still improve... Do you like to workout in a gym?

Annika: Yes, I like to workout, especially to prevent injuries. It’s really important to do a lot of off-court exercises and focus on the parts that we use the most in tennis such as shoulders, knees and legs. To prevent injuries, you have to do a lot of rotation exercises. I use resistance bands (Thera-Bands) and I do a lot of weights to gain power. The next step is to adapt this on court and to get it in a reactive way. Yes, you have to work many hours in the gym in order to be prepared.

Thomas: So, you lift a lot of weights?

Annika: Yes. I think the level in tennis is getting better. The players are faster. So, you need more power. You can just get this if you lift enough weights. It is a very important part of the game.

Thomas: You’re a baseliner; you run a lot on the court in order to recover the ball and for positioning. Do you do a lot of running exercises?

Annika: Yes, I like that in order to move well on the court, to use quick steps and to be in the right distance to the ball. Also, it’s important for hitting the right shots. All these things are key factors in tennis. So, I think yes you have to do some fast stuff: some sprints, reacting exercises as well as some intervals. You can run up the mountain as well. I do that to be prepared for all the matches I do in a row and to overcome tough matches especially for the three-set matches. This way, I can play the next day without a problem.

Thomas: Also, do you like to do cardio-respiratory exercises?

Annika: Yes, I think it’s important. As I said in the beginning, tennis is such a complex sport. You need everything.

Thomas: It’s not every player that likes to work that aspect of training. As we know, endurance is an integral part of tennis that you have to do...

Annika: Yes. Sometimes, you have three-set match and sometimes you have a fast match. Well, the match can go over three hours and you have to be ready the next day. Recovery is an important part. You have to stretch and be flexible to avoid muscle soreness or tiredness that can happen the next day.

Thomas: A season starts in January. Now, it’s September and for you it’s not over yet. Is it tough to keep in form all year long?

Annika: Yes, I think it is. For any athlete, it is important to make a good schedule for the whole year. You also need breaks between two seasons. During this period, I have time to practice again. As I said, I go up the mountain or run somewhere else. Otherwise, I go to the gym.

At the end of the year, you get more and more tired, especially at this time of the year. It’s important to have a good recovery because when off-season arrives we are really working hard. All of us, we train a lot before the season starts. We have nearly two months off. I prepared myself with a fitness guy and I push myself. I spent many hours training.

Thomas: So, you have two months off: November and December. I did not know... I was told it was just December.

Annika: Yes. You can choose whenever you want to stop with the tournaments and then you have time for yourself to prepare for the next season.

Thomas: You were talking about the schedule. You are a person who has had her share of tennis, at least this year. I think you played already 27 tournaments this season. It’s a lot!

Annika: I think it’s a lot. I would say that around 25 tournaments (more or less) is the correct amount. You must consider how much your body can handle. Moreover, you have to take into account your objectives that you set for yourself: what ranking you want to achieve or which step you want to take. Another thing that influenced the number of tournaments is the results that you have obtained. In the end, I think you should not go over 30 tournaments a year because otherwise you will not have enough time to practice.

Thomas: You are always moving from a city to another one. Is it easy to train under these conditions?

Annika: I have to say, it’s quite good. At the tournaments that I take part, the organization is great for us, the players. There is a gym where we can workout and there are a lot of practice courts.

We feel very good, considering the jet lag. I think every player has a problem with that. After a flight, you have to be ready the next day for practicing or for a match. Everybody deals with this differently. Some of us go for a run and others just simply recover from it. But over the years, you have to find your way to be ready for the next day.

Thomas: You started playing in the WTA in 2009, you were 15 years old. Ok you’re still quite young but you have seen a lot of tennis. Is it tough to keep the motivation for the game and for training?

Annika: Yes, I think it is tough when you are young because your body is still developing. You don’t know what will be the reaction of an exercise on your body and what you want to achieve with that. When you’re young, you’re still improving your game. So, you have to find the basics around what you are going to do. Over the years and with the experience which goes along with it, you are learning more about yourself. Eventually, you know how to train and what you should do. For me, I feel good in this matter.

Thomas: With your coach, Dirk Dier, you are focusing on what right now (the physical aspect, the technical parts of tennis or more the strategy)?

Annika: It’s a bit of everything. You know strategy is always important mainly for the matches. For the physical part, I have to be ready and be fit. Of course, I want to develop my game. I want to play faster. I want to take the step in the right direction and play more aggressively. For this aspect of the game, you need more power. It is what we are taking care off right now.

Thomas: The last three years your season-ending single rankings were between the 50th and the 60th position. Now, you’re in 38th place. What do you want to do to go up in the rankings? More tournaments!

Annika (says with passion): No! It’s not like I want to play more tournaments. It’s more about how I want to develop my game. Of course, I think I need a good schedule. Also, I would add that in tennis the mental aspect is really important. In a way, you need some exercises for your head and for your mind in order to react well in tough situations. It’s linked, more or less, with confidence. If you feel fit on the court and you think that you can run until you die, I would say everything is good.

Final words

Thomas: In the end, after all the training you’re doing, on match day, you are alone on the court. How do you feel out there?

Annika: First, I think you must have fun on the court. You have to feel that you’re moving well out there and you’re hitting good shots. Also, what you do, you have to do it with motivation and discipline. It’s one of the most important parts. Nevertheless, you have to enjoy it out there! In brief, I want to take steps after steps and see where my development goes.

Thomas: Thanks. Keep the spirit!

Annika: Thank you!