IN NOVEMBER 2018, in a Women’s Circuit with 15 thousand dollars in prizes, a tournament equivalent to the current ITF World Tour W15, played at the OSPACA complex in Villa del Dique, little Solana Sierra achieved her first WTA point after beating Delfina Glorioso 6-0, 3-6 and 6-4. The same age with which he got it, for example, Gabriela Sabatini.
This week, three years later, the 17-year-old from Mar del Plata debuted at the women’s Argentina Open, the WTA 125 from Buenos Aires, with a solid 6-2, 6-4 victory over Sol Faga, which was coming off qualifying, and added her first WTA caliber victory. With that triumph he made sure to rise from position 1019 at least 826th place in the WTA rankings.
This Thursday he said goodbye after losing 7-6 (6) and 6-4 against the Greek Despina Papamichail (198ª), in a game in which he served twice to win the first set and even had an incredible set point with the Greek serve at 6-5: after a high-intensity exchange, the Mar del Plata he took a well hidden drop that “danced” in the girdle and, finally, did not pass the other side.
Heatstroke and several cramps later, with the feeling of having taken a huge step forward in his promising career, He attended El Gráfico in the corridors of the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club and he told his feelings and what he expects in the coming months.
“I am happy for my first WTA victory. With Papamichail it was a very tough game; I had my chances and I couldn’t take advantage of them well, but I am left with the positive that it is to have played my first WTA in Argentina. I was a little sad, I cried a little , but I think I’m going to reconsider because the week was very positive “, highlighted who played the tournament thanks to a special invitation.
Formed by Bettina Fulco, former 23rd in the world and Roland Garros quarter-finalist, at the Telefonos de Mar del Plata club, Sierra comes from doing a huge role in the US Open: as part of the ITF Team, a formation with the best juniors in the world whose travel support is financed by the International Tennis Federation itself, the Mar del Plata reached no less than the semifinals in New York.
“In the first game I saw her very nervous, with successes and errors, but it was an accessible game for her; with Papamichail I saw her much better, although it was very hard because the other plays as a Spaniard and does not miss a ball. I think Solana It needs to get used to this type of game in which the rival returns two or three more balls than in juniors: there are points in which Sol, due to how hard he hits the ball, solves them faster in the youth category, but in WTA you have to play ten balls and have more patience “, Fulco analyzed, in dialogue with El Gráfico, about the two games that Sierra played in the WTA in Buenos Aires, against Sol Faga and against the Greek Despina Papamichail.
All accumulated results both in junior -It is the 15th in the world- as in professional, stage in which just finished its 13th tournament, in addition to the game prototype for which she usually resembles tennis players of European origin, Sierra emerges as one of the greatest projects of Argentine women’s tennis. Deploy modern tennis, seek initiative, generate openings and often avoid short points; Rather, he likes to play three or four balls and stand well on the court. That is why Fulco remarks that the WTA level requires more patience to unlock tight matches. But he is confident that Solana can grow by the end of the year and settle down with a view to the full exit to professionalism after 18.
“If she continues like this and can play more competitive games, she can take a further leap in concentration to make fewer unforced errors and take a bit of the pressure and tension of matches that are even. In every player who is not a phenomenon, like Sabatini or Steffi Graf, there are many climbs and plateaus. We have to hope that Sol scores a good climb at the end of the year and settles down on the physical side. I fully trust her if she adds more experience in these types of tournaments “, Fulco explained about the medium-term future of Sierra, who will play the next two weeks the W60 in Santiago de Chile and his second WTA 125 in Montevideo, for a total of 15 professional tournaments so far in his short career.
“It’s incredible. I haven’t played in Argentina for a long time so having played in the stadium, with my team and my family, was really incredible. I think I’m growing and I have to keep working”Sierra said, somewhat tired from the physical bustle of the clash with Papamichail.
Since December Sierra no longer works with Fulco, although it is clear that she has a special bond for having been his trainer and for having received from him the tools to get where you got. Now he has been working with a team made up of coaches for almost a year. Emilio and Leandro Arisqueta, the sports psychologist Claudio Sosa and the physical trainer Mario Duré, who in recent times was with Leonardo Mayer.
For Solana, beyond the defeat in the round of 16, an instance in which he entered as only local survivor of the Argentina Open, everything that he lived in the last days configures an apprenticeship. Especially for having shared moments with Nadia Podoroska, one of his idols, who could not compete in the Buenos Aires tournament due to a back injury but was present in several official actions. “We talked a bit with Nadia. For me it is a pleasure to see her. It is very important because Nadia is a reference for me”, sentenced the Mar del Plata, with the dreams intact forward.
Cover image: Prensa Argentina Open
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SOLANA SIERRA, THE JEWEL OF ARGENTINE WOMEN’S TENNIS