Phuket

Phuket Sport: Getting back to the top

PHUKET: I first saw Alisa Kleybanova bouncing balls across the net during her morning tennis practice at Thanyapura. Not a hint of smile on her face, but 100 per cent focus, precision and power. Later, when she dips into Thanyapura’s Olympic size pool with the members of the Dutch elite swim team who are preparing in the sport complex for the 2016 Olympics, she seems more relaxed, enjoying the beauty of the place and the company of the Dutch athletes.

When we finally get a chance to chat, she explains why she looks so serious on the court: “I don’t think any professional player is relaxed on the court. Once you know how it feels to win and how much it takes to get there, you take it seriously,” And winning is one thing Alisa knows a lot about – both in sport and in life. In 2011 she reached her career high – she was ranked as the world number 20 position in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles category, getting ready to reach the very top. Then the diagnosis came – blood cancer. What does a winner do?

Alisa says she never got depressed and all she had on her mind was to come back to the court and continue playing and winning: “I’m sure this focus helped me get through the disease. I was so focused on coming back that I didn’t really realize how serious my condition was.”

Now, having recovered from the disease, she’s back on the court and fighting to get back to the top. And this time she thinks it might actually be easier. After all, the last time she was there, she was never actually 100% healthy, with the cancer lurking deep inside. Now she’s fit and ready to fight for what is rightfully hers, “I don’t want to be just the tennis player who overcame her disease. I want to be best a what I do, at playing tennis.”

— Maciek Klimowicz

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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