Irina Falconi made the tennis world take notice in 2011, and if you want, you can read all about it from her point of view.
She's the No. 5 ranked American women's tennis player and currently No. 84 in the world, but this 21-year old fireball is also a talented writer and loves giving updates from "inside" the world of professional tennis as much as she loves hitting a cross-court backhand winner.
Over the last two years, Falconi has made the jump from college tennis, to playing small professional events in cities like Midland, MI and Troy, AL to now getting directly into major championships like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. All the while, she has chronicled her journey and adventures on her own blog and for the USTA on USTA.com, and it's not all tennis.
This comes from a blog entry Falconi made from Wimbledon last year:
Walked to Wimbledon Village for the second day in a row. It's rough staying at a place where you're 5 minutes from the site and 5 minutes from the coolest village in Wimbledon. Ha.
A little Thai food never did me any wrong. I ate it for seven straight days when I played the US Open last year. Not superstitious at all, I promise!
While she does talk about her wins and losses on tour, Falconi gives insight to the travel that tennis pros must endure, and how she passes time while waiting for practice courts or the rain to stop falling.
It's all fun for Falconi. "Sometimes people don't even care about my tennis anymore, they just care about the blogs," joked Falconi. "I actually have such a great time doing it, and I'm really close with the USTA, I can send a blog whenever and they will post it the same day."
Falconi is one few WTA ranked players who spent some time in college. She played at Georgia Tech under the guidance of former ATP player Bryan Shelton. "It was a great experience," Falconi said of her college tennis days. "It was the right thing for me, and I learned a lot."
Looking ahead to the upcoming WTA season, I asked Irina about her 2012 schedule and if she needs a fast start to the season. "Absolutely," she replied. "I only have to defend 60 points in the first three tournaments, so that is very comforting."
Her ranking now allows her to plan her schedule a little more than in the past. "Now I can plan my schedule six weeks out, so I know what I'll be doing and what my travel arrangements are in advance," Falconi added. "I think that will help me early in 2012."
Goals for 2012 include breaking into the top-50 and winning more matches at the major championships. She lists the U.S. Open as her favorite tournament and it shows as she reached the third round in 2011 posting a win over top-20 player Dominika Cibulkova.
Falconi is currently in Auckland, New Zealand getting ready to play her first event of 2011. You may be able to catch one or more of her matches on television, if not, you'll be able to read all about it at irinafalconi.com or at USTA.com, courtesy of Irina.