Czech tennis player Lucie Safarova is the newest member of Empire Tennis Academy Trnava. Lucie is the 2015 Roland Garros Ladies Singles finalist, four times Grand Slam Doubles Winner with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, current no. 2 in WTA Doubles ranking (as of February 13th) and multiple Fed Cup winner. A small introductory press conference to the media was held on February 13th at Hotel Empire in Trnava.
On November 16th I attended the Tennis Player of the Year 2016 in Slovakia Gala, held in National Tennis Center in Bratislava. The main star of the evening was Dominika Cibulkova, winner of three WTA Tour titles, as well as the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore. She claimed both Best Female Tennis Player of the Year and Most Popular Tennis Player of the Year awards. Tereza Mihalikova and Lukas Klein were named Best Junior Players of the Year. Romana Cisovska was chosen as the Best Upcoming Player of the Year. Women’s Fed Cup Team was chosen as the Best Tennis Team of the Year, despite the fact it failed to advance from the Fed Cup World Gropu 2. Coach Lubomir Kurhajec was inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame in Slovakia. Martin Klizan, who was selected as the Best Male Tennis Player of the Year 2016 did not attend the ceremony.
In mid November I attended the 9th edition of Tennis Chamipons Exhibition in Bratislava. This year’s line-up consisted of WTA Champion from Singapore Dominika Cibulkova, Swiss rising star Belinda Bencic, Czech and Slovak Davis Cup heroes Radek Stepanek and Dominik Hrbaty, as well as first class tennis entertainers Yannick Noah and Mansour Bahrami. Some of my photos from the event appeared in the articles on WTA Tennis.com and Tennis.com.
In late October 2016, I had the opportunity to spend two days at ATP 500 Erste Bank Open Tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria. This tournament had a total financial commitment of 2,4 million EUR and the players had a chance to add up to 500 points to their ranking. The line up included world no. 2 Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Austrian rising super star Dominic Thiem, as well as the veterans David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and John Isner. The lighting in Wiener Stadthalle was difficult to work with, producing a strong yellow cast. Nevertheless, I was happy for the opportunity, as it was my first time shooting professional tennis outside of Slovakia in 9 years.
In mid-May 2016, I shot the semifinals and finals of ITF Empire Slovak Open, the largest women’s tennis tournament in Slovakia. This ITF tourmanet with the prize money of 100 000 Dollars serves as the International women’s championship of Slovakia. Katerina Siniakova won the singles, defeating Anastasia Sevastova in a three set battle. In doubles, the talented Slovak junior Tereza Mihalikova claimed the title with her team-mate Anna Kalinskaya. They defeated the higher-ranked duo Anastasia Sevastova and Evgenyia Rodina in two sets.
In April 2016, Slovakia played the Fed Cup World Group 2 Play off against Canada. The winner retained the position in World Group 2, while the loser was relegated into regional competition. After losing to Australia in February, Slovakia managed to win this tie 3:2. Dominika Cibulkova was the driving force this time, winning both her singles rubbers against Francoise Abanda and Aleksandra Wozniak. Our team also had a new member. Tereza Mihalikova, who won Junior Australian Open 2015 and was a finalist of Junior Australian Open 2016 made her debut in the doubles match. She and Jana Cepelova almost won their match against Canadian duo Sharon Fichman and Charlotte Robillard-Millette. The Canadians were more lucky in the third set super tie-break.
In February 2016, Slovak Fed Cup team played the first round of Fed Cup World Group 2. against team Australia. The Aussies led former US Open Champion Samantha Stosur proved to be too tough for us. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova defeated Arina Rodionova and Dominika Cibulkova won her match against Kimberly Birrell. On the other hand, Samantha Stosur defeated both Jana Cepelova on Saturday and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova on Sunday. She then added the deciding point in with Casey Dellacqua, defeating Daniela Hantuchova and Jana Cepelova in three sets.
On December 1st 2015 I photographed the 8th edition of Tennis Champions Exhibition in Bratislava. This year’s line-up had Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, Mansour Bahrami, Yannick Noah, Petra Kvitova and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Barbara Schett – Wilander’s co-host on Eurosport’s “Game, Set & Mats” made a surprising appearance. The score is not important in this kind of events. People were definitely entertained, especially by the showmanship of Mansour Bahrami and Yannick Noah.
My photos from the 22nd edition of Tennis Player of the Year in Slovakia. The winners are: Tereza Mihalikova (best female junior of the year), Alex Molcan (best male junior of the year), Galea cup winners (best tennis team of the year), Marek Gergely (best wheelchair tennis player of the year), Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (best female tennis player and most popular tennis player of the year), Martin Klizan (best male player of the year). Musical guest of the evening: Adam Durica and his band.
In november 2015, I photographed the 16th annual Slovak Open. This year, both men and women competed for the title. Egor Gerasimov became the winner of men’s singles, defeating the two-times champion Lukas Lacko. Jesika Maleckova became the winner of women’s singles after a three set victory over 1st seeded Anna Kalinina.