Friday, September 25, 2015

An interview with Ashley Weinhold

Ashley Weinhold. (c) Jonathan Kelley, On the Rise
It was my pleasure to talk to US player Ashley Weinhold after her doubles semifinal win at the Redding $25K last week. She and partner Caitlin Whoriskey went on to win their second consecutive doubles title the next day. Weinhold, a 26-year-old righty, is based in Austin, Texas. She's currently ranked #660 in singles (career high #181 in 2011) and #238 in doubles (career high #221 in 2012).

On the Rise: Talk a little about your career. A few years ago you were in the top 200, and you've dropped a bit since then. Can you talk us through what's been going on?

Weinhold: I've had some little nagging injuries here and there that have kept me out periodically. I didn't play a full schedule last year, so that didn't really enable me to have a super-high ranking. I'm trying to play a bigger schedule this year. I played a lot this summer. My ranking might not show for it, but I've won a lot of matches this year. So I feel good about that, and it's just a matter of kind of doing well on the weeks that I didn't previously do well, because I tend to do well at the same events so my ranking kind of stays in the same spot. So I need to work on a better schedule, maybe. Finding other events.

OTR: You played main draw singles here?

AW: Yes, I snuck in last minute. I was originally in qualies, and then the list moved a little bit and I was in main. Which was nice, and I wanted to take advantage of that, but I had a pretty tough first round against the #2 seed [Varatchaya Wongteanchai] ... it was 6&6 and it was 3 hours long for 2 sets. Just a matter of a couple of points. So that one hurts a little bit. But it's okay.

OTR: What do you do after a tough loss like that?

AW: I had to play doubles right after. So kind of clear your mind right away. I'm pretty good at taking notes and kind of moving on. You've got to have a short memory in tennis.

OTR: You're a really accomplished doubles player -- you've got I don't even know how many pro titles [13 after Redding, including her first $50K earlier this summer]. Is it ever a thought to you that you might want to try doubles full time or are you absolutely committed to singles?

AW: I'm very committed to singles. Everything I work on and try to improve on is based on singles. I do very little doubles work, it just comes naturally. It's nice to be able to play both, but my focus is on singles.

I've gotten stuck in a couple of situations and at the moment I'm stuck here playing a doubles final, and I'm trying to get to Albuquerque for singles. [Ed. note: She was able to make her first round qualies match in Albuquerque on Sunday. She fell 3&4 to top seed Amra Sadikovic, who ended up reached the semifinals.] So travel-wise, that's not really going to help my singles. I've had that trouble a few times.  It's a good problem to have but also I'd like to be in the main draw [in singles] so I wouldn't have to worry about it.

OTR: What is it about your game that transitions well to doubles? You don't see a lot of players your height [5'5"] serving and volleying. You're really active at net as well.

AW: Yeah. I mean, I'm low to the ground, so I'm pretty quick. Fast-twitch muscles. I'm, I guess, pretty athletic, so I like to have an all-around game in singles and it kind of just carries over to doubles. I'm comfortable at the net and that ends points quicker.

OTR: Looking back a few years, was college tennis a consideration for you?

AW: It was. I probably would have ended up at the University of Virginia.  I have some great friends there and I work with the coach here and there still. But at the time, I was #1 in the nation in singles and won our hard court nationals.  So I took the main draw wildcard into the U.S. Open and that kind of solidified my decision. I'd always been training and working for pro.

I think the college game now is a bit stronger now than when I graduated, so I think it's a great option now. Maybe more resources coming out, bigger tournaments, more opportunities for wildcards.  If I were to go back, I wouldn't change it. I was in a very good place at the time.

OTR: What's your schedule going to be like for the rest of the year?

AW: I don't know for sure. Going to Albuquerque next week. We'll see about Vegas and Kirkland ... where my ranking's at it's going to be a little tough in the fall. I'll be in qualies a lot. My plan is to stay in the States right now; we'll see if I have to go elsewhere.

Thanks very much to Ashley for the interview! And to her and Caitlin Whoriskey (who are into the Albuquerque doubles quarterfinals as the #2 seeds) for their post-title interview the following day. Watch it below:

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