Samia Sunghi's homepage

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Samia Sunghi's homepage

Postby Brecht » 10 Apr 2011, 12:02

Hi all, I think it’s time for me to introduce Samia Sunghi and her career to you all. Her name may not sound familiar to any of you, for it’s been quite a while since she didn’t pick her racket in front of a large audience. For the youngsters here, she started her junior career in 1990 and turned into a full-time tennis player in the second half of 1992. So you’ll hear about the far past here. And you probably wouldn’t have read anything there if Samia’s elder son, tennis fan and above all computer freak, hadn’t convinced her to collect all the stuff she had kept all over her years on the Tour and, of course, her memories, in order to create her own website. Samia first laughed at the very idea. The internet didn’t exist when she started to play as a pro, the players weren’t tweeting all day, and Samia didn’t even grant more than two seconds to the thought of having a website of her own when it started to be popular - she was in the late stage of her career and wouldn’t bother. But long after she retired, her son insisted on showing her several players’ homepages; they discovered a lot of fanpages about her, and then she realised she definitely could do something funny gathering her old stuff and developping the page as if her career were going on. Some kind of an autobiography, which anyway she wouldn’t bother to write herself - or have written by a ghost. So they went on searching for pics and vids, collecting memories, experiencing with design and layout, and finally brought out this home-made site: http://sites.google.com/site/samiasunghi/.
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Re: Samia Sunghi's homepage

Postby Brecht » 10 Apr 2011, 18:01

Yes, the site is currently mostly in French. But don’t worry: The English part of the site is going to grow with Samia’s fan base. For the moment, Samia is not fully committed to tennis. We are in 1991, and she has still one year of high school ahead of her. Therefore those who are interested in her results on the Tour (http://sites.google.com/site/samiasunghi/resultats) and her thoughts on it (http://sites.google.com/site/samiasunghi/le-blog-de-samia) are mostly her French friends. So now, let’s explain here where she comes from and what her relationship to tennis is - you can also have a look at what she herself writes on the “my page in English” part http://sites.google.com/site/samiasunghi/my-page-in-english, or the biography (http://sites.google.com/site/samiasunghi/biographie) - I’m only her agent :-).

Samia started tennis at a rather “old” age, she was 10 when she first picket up a racket, but already 11 when she decided to use it properly. Before tennis, she had been doing athletics. She added tennis to her hobby list because of her best friend who was a member of the local club. Two years later they had an argument and Samia’s only tennis goal was to beat her 1 and 1. No, Samia wasn’t really ambitious as far as tennis was concerned. She was good at school - basically she had no choice, since her mother wouldn’t accept any mark under 70%. Maybe I should drop a word or two on Samia’s parents. She herself wouldn’t write about them on her website - but be sure she’s read this before I publish it. I’m no fool. I need the job :-).

Samia - you may have wondered about her name - is what she calls herself a “pure, but unlikely produce of the French (de)colonization”. She was named after her grandmother on her mother’s side; Samia, in Arabic, means “superb”. She never knew her grandmother, for she died when her daughter Karima, Samia’s mother, was still a little baby. The family had just come from Algeria and settled in France, in what the French call a “dormitory town” of the North suburbs of Paris, when Samia the First caught a bad virus. Karima had both the misfortune of growing up without a mother and the luck of becoming her dad’s only pride. He worked hard all his life to secure to his daughter a worthy living, and Karima fought as hard as him to get a higher education - the only thing that stopped her was the birth of Samia the Second. The very serious Karima had crossed the road of Robert Sunghi, a young plumber whose boss was looking for a book keeper. Karima had just finished a short-term course in book keeping and was the right one for the job. A year later, in 1974, Samia was born and Karima gave up the thought of resuming her studies. Robert was a tough and reliable guy, and though he didn’t exactly match the dreams of a twenty-two years old woman, not even those of down-to-earth Karima, the couple remained firm and steady all over the years. Robert had a complicated background, which certainly made his strictness and his fascination for the military discipline more understandable and somehow bearable. His mother was half Korean, half Vietnamese; he never knew his father, and it was difficult for him to believe in her mother’s story, according to which his father was a Vietnamese hero of the Indochinese War. He grew up next to a garrison in the East of France, and saw in each soldier he came accross a potential progenitor. After he saw ash blond hair grow on his baby daughter’s head, he reduced his quest to the blond soldiers. There were mostly Kabylians on his wife’s side, and blond hair is rather common among them; but you never saw a blond Asian. And Robert had enough listened to his biology teacher to know that the blond hair gene is recessive.
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Re: Samia Sunghi's homepage

Postby manutoo » 11 Apr 2011, 06:47

You did a nice selection of screenshots..! :yes:
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Re: Samia Sunghi's homepage

Postby Brecht » 11 Apr 2011, 17:18

manutoo wrote:You did a nice selection of screenshots..! :yes:


Thanks!

Samia is a passionate photographer and has always a good camera to lend to her coach :wink: .


So back to Samia and her tennis. Her parents didn’t encourage her at first. Her mother’s priority was school, and her father wasn’t willing to pay for two sport activities. Samia managed to have her own way while fulfilling all her mother’s strict demands regarding school, and satisfying her father with encouraging results in sports - but those remained modest since both parents never accepted that their daughter could train and compete at a higher level than her local club would allow her. It’s only during the summer holidays, when Samia went to a tennis summer camp, that she showed the talent she had in her. She was as resilient and determined as her mother, as tough and disciplined as her father, and on top of that she had the right feeling for the tactics and the touch. Combine those qualities with a solid athletic background, and you have all the ingredients that make the champs.

All right, the ingredients aren’t enough when you don’t have the utensils. And Samia missed them badly at her local club. She was already 15 when a trainer at the summer camp let his anger burst out in front of such waste of talent. He spoke to Samia’s sceptical parents and managed at last to convince them to let Samia pass some tests at the national training center.

To her parents’ relief, but to her own agony, Samia failed. Not because she was playing badly: but she was too old, too short, she had no experience on the Junior Tour, and her national ranking was ridiculous. The only positive thing she gained at the test was a recommendation for a renowned club where she could train properly and measure herself to similar players.

At 15 and half, Samia entered a new tennis club and a new school. She had to give up athletics, which made her very sad, but she soon realised her schedule was heavy enough. She quickly improved her game, beat some highly ranked Juniors - and started to elaborate a plan as carefully as a Vietcong or FLN general. I won’t reveal any details on how she exactly managed to apply for the Dortmund ITF (10’000 $) tournament* without her parents’ knowing - the fact is that she applied, got a positive answer and spent her two weeks of holidays playing there - and won all her single and doubles matches.

You can see here (http://sites.google.com/site/samiasunghi/resultats) all the tournaments she committed to. You’ll notice that they were very few, for Samia played only during the school holidays. With some exception for the big ones taking place in France: Strasbourg, Roland Garros and Paris Coubertin.
You’ll also notice that she was incredibly successful on the ITF circuit. Even today, it’s something Samia can’t really explain. Some good luck at the drawings, she would say. Of course, tennis players were not as athletic as they are today, especially the lower ranked, and Samia, with her stamina and speed, had a clear lead over them. But also, the fact that she was playing with a different pressure than the others may have played a role. Tennis was not her main activity, just a (tough) holiday hobby, hence results didn’t matter that much; but those moments on court were so rare for her, so precious, that she would give all her heart to make them unforgettable. And I know that the fear of losing that so particular feeling made her hesitate to take up a professional career. Tennis was something exceptional for her - and should never become a routine.

*aka "Germany F1" by the Tennis Elbow players :wink:
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Re: Samia Sunghi's homepage

Postby Brecht » 25 Jun 2011, 21:32

Some quick update right now about Samia. In season one (1990), she made her debuts on the Pro Tour, reaching a pride ranking of #64 by the end of the year. 1991 was a transition. She worked hard and achieved some second-rate results and a few better ones. Her greatest successes were in the doubles, where she won two tournaments with her fellow countrywoman Cathy Tanvier: Marbella on clay and Copenhagen indoors. Nevertheless, she was in the top 50 at the end of the season, with only 11 tournaments played. But by that time, she didn't care about rankings or results. Her only goal that year was to lay the foundations of her full-time career who should start in July 1992. She was in her last secondary school year and knew she wouldn't be able to train properly and play main tournaments. So she had to gain the points in the second half of July '91. After that, she could devote herself to school.

And so did she. Everything went as planned: her drop in the rankings (she was out of the top 200 at the beginning of July), her loss of power and stamina (she was far under 50% of her potential) - but also her brilliant success at the final exam. A proud and hopeful Samia started her come-back to the tennis drill, with an ambitious goal in mind: to step on a court of the US Open in September. Twice in her young career she had been called to play that Grand Slam, for she was clearly in the top 100, and twice she had had to renounce to her spot in the main draw, because of the beginning of the school year. This year, she wouldn't be at school, so she had to be in Flushing Meadows. Be it only the first round of the qualies or a direct spot in the main draw, she didn't care. She simply wanted to be there. Would she manage?

If things had gone to plan, no doubt. But Samia, eager to be back on her old form, overtrained and hurt herself. No big deal, a light groin strain that required a couple of days of rest - but at the worst moment. She was about to defend her points at the 100K Istanbul Tournament in order to stay alive in the top 300. She had to retire and stop competition for two weeks. After that, she was out of the top 500.

So she's now struggling to climb back the rankings. She's currently in the US, played first a 10K to get back to match rhythm, and is now playing her second consecutive 50K tournament in New York, hoping for a jump in the rankings and /or a wild card for the US Open. She's on a good way, for she was invited to both 50K and won the first one in singles and doubles, but it's currently her third consecutive week of full-time tennis and she's starting to feel tired.
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