A chance to learn more about the young German player who recently won her second career singles title and is back within the WTA Top 400 and climbing.
ITF Pro Circuit: Can you tell us where were you born and maybe describe the area where you grew up?
Anna Zaja: I was born in Sigmaringen, a small city in southern Germany and I was growing up in a even smaller city close to it. It is a very rural countryside with farms and no big cities. I really enjoyed growing up there because I could spend all the time with outside activities.
Do any other members of your family play sport?
So how did you get started in tennis?
I was doing soccer before I started at the age of 7 with tennis. My father’s friend was a tennis coach and I just went to him to try it and I liked it. So I did both sports next to each other until I decided [to concentrate solely on] tennis at the age of 12.
What can you tell us about your current coach?
I am practicing at the Schüttler Waske Tennis-University in Frankfurt.
Who were/are your tennis idols?
My idols are the Williams sisters and Goran Ivanisevic.
What is your greatest tennis memory either as a player or as a fan?
It is tough to pick one because any match which is really close and you win it in the third set or after you were facing match points is just the best feeling you can get. And I already had a couple of these matches. [smiles]
Who has been the toughest opponent you have faced on court in an ITF Pro Circuit match?
I really don’t know.
In your opinion, what would you say are the best and worst aspects of being a professional tennis player?
The best aspects are for sure that you get all around the world, meet different people and different cultures and, of course, because you can have your hobby as a job. The bad aspect is for me to be away from home for most of the year and so don’t see my family.
So far in your career, what has been the nicest ITF Pro Circuit venue that you played at?
I like all the tournaments in Germany, they are really well organized. The $25,000 in Bad Saulgau is special to me because it is just ten minutes from my home and it is one of the best tournaments.
Have there been any amusing on-court incidents that you can share?
Just [the other] week during the match there was dog walking on the court.
How have you found players relationships with each other to be at tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit compared to other Circuits you may have played?
I did not play ITF Juniors and just few WTA tournaments so I cannot really compare it.
How has playing on the ITF Pro Circuit helped you as a player?
It has helped me to get tougher on the court.
Would you recommend that juniors go on to play the ITF Pro Circuit?
Yes, I can recommend them to play on the ITF Pro Circuit to get some experience.
What aspect of another player’s game do you most envy?
Actually I am happy with what I have [smiles]
Speaking of other female players (past & present), name the various players whose attributes you would take to create your own female super player?
Serve: Serena Williams
Return of Serve: Azarenka
Forehand: Serena Williams
Backhand: Serena Williams
Volley: Venus Williams
Positioning: Steffi Graf
Speed on court: Steffi Graf
Concentration: Maria Sharapova
Fighting spirit: Maria Sharapova
Entertainment: Serena Williams
If you could only have one Grand Slam title, which would you choose?
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given?
Never give up a match, no matter what the score is.
Away from the tennis court do you have any other interests?
I like any kind of sports. I like music and I would love to learn to play the piano but I have no time right now.
Meeting which celebrity would leave you star struck?
Ryan Gosling [actor]
Do you have a favourite holiday destination?
If you had not become a tennis player what career path would you have liked to have followed?
Probably studying engineering.
Have you set yourself any goals for 2014?
Play the best I can [winks and smiles]