Sun. Dec 15th, 2019

The last balls of Carla – The Province


An extended goodbye. The end of Carla Suarez as a professional tennis player is near, although it still remains. Exactly one year, which runs between January and December 2020. Then, the best Canarian tennis player in history, and flag for years of national women's tennis, will leave the courts forever. Then he will be 32 years old (he was born on September 3, 1998), a young age still to practice the sport of racket at a good level, but Carla over time has made him change priorities and make a decision. The decision. Which is probably the toughest of his life.

Because it should not be easy, as much as I knew in advance that the withdrawal would come someday, change a way of life after so many years, specifically since 2007, when it became part of the WTA, the main organization that governs tournaments and the professional circuit of women's tennis worldwide. Until that time he had participated in tournaments of the ITF, the international federation, but at a much lower rate than the highest level demands. In any case, that section between 2004 and 2007 served Carla to make it clear that she wanted to leave her mark.

Since then, Carla's life has always been understood with a racket in her hand. Travel bags, airplanes, jet lags and several trips around the world to compete in very remote places are part of his life diary. Also the successes and the disappointments, because that's what sport is about, but always with the satisfaction of the one who knows he was happy while doing it. And he still has challenges ahead, since he does not think of throwing his last year in the world escape.

One of them, the most important, is to move from position 55 of the ranking WTA, which occupies since last December 2, one in the top 10, or what is the same: finish his career among the 10 best players in the world, something he has never achieved. Another is to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the fourths in his private account after having been present in Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. And he also wants to overcome the barrier of the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam. Ahead is the Australian Open (January), Roland Garros (May), Wimbledon (June) and the United States Open (September) to get it.

In any case, Carla knows that winning one of the 'big ones' is a highly complicated matter, since she has never reached the semifinals. But he does know what it is to win a tournament. Specifically two: the Oeiras Tournament (Portugal), in 2014, and the Doha Tournament (Qatar), in 2016. The victory in the Portuguese town against the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova meant for her the elimination of a huge barrier. More experienced, two years later he won a new title, this time in Asia and in front of Latvian Jelena Ostapenko. In that 2016 it would reach the top.

Because as soon as he won the second individual tournament of his career he went on to occupy, on February 29, the sixth place in the world rankings, his highest position so far. All this was thanks to her constant struggle against herself, her enormous capacity to overcome in the most difficult moments, when no one could help her on the court, when she was alone. But Carla has also been successful in doubles, where she has three more titles, all with Garbiñe Muguruza as a partner, one in 2014 (Stanford) and two in 2015 (Birmingham and Tokyo).

The Grancanaria could have expanded her medal winners up to nine times individually, but stayed at the door. He was a finalist in New Haven (2018), Antwerp, Miami, Rome (2015), Acapulco, Oeiras (2013 and 2012) and Marbella (2010 and 2009). In addition, he lost another six doubles finals, for all he knows, and very well, what it is to die on the shore.

With Spain, Suarez was part of the different teams that participated in the Federation Cup between 2008 and 2014, in 2016 and in 2018, although none of those combined managed to raise the most important women's trophy between countries. What he did get was to participate in three Olympic Games, although he never reached the third round. In Beijing the local Shuai Peng knocked her down, in London the Belgian Kim Clijsters did it and in Rio de Janeiro the Croatian Ana Konjuh, these last two in the second round. Therefore, and although the tennis player is worth simply being, the Tokyo appointment is a major challenge for her.

The great sporting event will take place in summer, by the time three of the four Grand Slam have already been played. In his last year of his career he will be accompanied by Marc Casabó, who will not represent the figure of a coach in use, but rather will be an assistant in the year of the farewell. This is the fourth person who contributed to his training, but not the most important. When she was a child, Alonso Pérez made sure that Carla took tennis seriously, opened the bug and urged him to devote himself to it. Then, in 2007, he took her to Barcelona Xavi Budó, with whom he spent a decade and with which he achieved his greatest successes. He spent the last two seasons with Oscar Serrano, until September of this year.

Forced to end the season early for a back injury, Suarez has not competed for four months, but faces the last course of her career with the same enthusiasm as when she started. With more than 11,500,000 euros received in prizes, 509 wins and 336 losses, he has nothing left but to enjoy the long farewell and try to meet the goals that she has set for the year 2020, with her rights and setbacks, with their serves and their passings, with their left and their aces. There is still Carla, but less and less. They are the last raquetazos of a warrior of the tracks.

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