Lawn Tennis - Maria Sharapova Readies Herself For Fed Cup Firestorm
Lawn Tennis
Lawn Tennis Fed Cup by BNP Paribas
First Round - Russia vs Spain
April 21-22, 2007
Lawn Tennis
Maria Sharapova Readies Herself For Fed Cup Firestorm
By Anton Lagani, Lawn Tennis Correspondent
Thursday, October 5, 2006

Maria Sharapova Fed Cup I first met Maria Sharapova in early 2004 as she dined with other European tennis players at a tennis tournament ballroom. After dinner as she exited a side door, Sharapova wrapped herself tightly up in the biggest down-filled coat as if she was expecting a firestorm soon.

At that time Sharapova was hitting mostly flat balls, but only a few months later she discovered the right mix of topspin and power and claimed her first Wimbledon singles title which along with her classic outer beauty propelled her to international stardom.

Sharapova, who claims Russian citizenship, at age 9 with her father/coach Yuri Sharapov bid farewell to the 8 months of snow in eastern Europe and relocated to more ideal tennis playing conditions in southern Florida.

With the sunshiny weather of Florida and an army of hitting partners and would be coaches, Maria was free to pursue her dream to make herself into the very best tennis player possible.

Now 19 years old, Sharapova who has lived a large part of her young life so far traveling to tennis tournaments, now bases herself out of two homes in California and Florida, but has managed to remain Russian apparently in her heart as she has announced this week her intention to make herself available for Russia in Fed Cup next year. In round one April 21-22, Russia faces Spain at Moscow.

"I'm really excited to make my first appearance in Fed Cup for my country, and it is great to be playing the tie in Moscow," Sharapova said. "Hopefully, myself and the team will put up a strong showing against Spain."

A Russian friend of mine recently was working here in the United States, until a few weeks ago when he returned to work in Russia. Before his departure, I asked him if he felt Maria Sharapova was more Russian or American. He echoed the sentiment a few of Sharapova's potential Russian Fed Cup teammates voiced not long ago concerning Sharapova's version of the Russian language. "Her English is much better than her Russian," he said, "if you listen to her press conferences."

Another factor most likely has entered into play. Sharapova by rules set has to indicate availibility for Fed Cup for Russia in 2007, otherwise she would not be allowed to compete in the Olympics in 2008. Whatever her motivations, here's wishing Maria Sharapova well when she enters team competition for the first time ever back in her homeland within the icy regions of Russia next spring.


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