*** Sharon Fichman is a Canadian professional tennis player. Fichman was ranked No. 5 on the junior circuit in December 2006. Since turning pro, so far her career highs are No. 114 in singles and No. 83 in doubles. *** [wiki]
ONcourt: Sharon, how many years have you been on the tour now?
Sharon Fichman: I turned pro in April of 2009 so just over three years now.
ONcourt: In retrospect, what do you feel? Do you think you made the right decision? Where are you in your mind at this point?
SF: I definitely feel that I made the right decision. There were definitely times in these last few years when I thought otherwise, as an athlete you face adversity as I have, but where I am right now I feel It was the right decision. I am very happy. It’s an experience you have to get through in order to grow – become a better person, a better player, and just gain a lot of understanding and perspective. It’s only been three and a half years for me but I feel I am getting there and I feel like I am learning so much about myself. In the end it makes me realize that I am able to play at this level and I believe I can do great things on tour.
ONcourt: Tell me, when you finished high-school you were a very good student. What were some of the schools you had the option to attend?
SF: I was accepted into The Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania so I was more than likely to go there had I not decided to go pro. I had been accepted to a lot of great schools – I was talking to Stanford, I was talking to Harvard, I was talking to every Ivy League actually. The decision for me was that if I wasn’t going to go pro I would need to give that up for something amazing such as getting an Ivy League education.
ONcourt: Having known you for a long time and knowing how much success you’ve had as a junior – when you get into the pros it’s always difficult because everyone there has had success in the juniors. How have you coped with the fact that you’re not as [relatively] successful and there are younger people coming up behind you?
SF: It’s definitely an experience. I had a lot of success very quickly as a junior and that didn’t happen the same way as a professional. I did have a year in 2009 where I got up pretty quickly to almost top 100 (and top 100 in doubles). The thing is you realize the level is a lot higher and the physical and mental demands are much greater which leads to a lot of injuries that you don’t face as often as a junior. Things like that can really affect your ranking and your confidence. If you’re not able to play because you’re injured that obviously affects it too. There’s just a lot more obstacles to overcome. Everybody wants to win really badly and there are so many great players. Tennis in general, I believe, has evolved and there’s a greater depth in women’s tennis which makes it harder as well. I’m coping with it, I think it’s fine, I’m very excited because as hard as everything is I really to believe I have the ability to be a top 100, top 50 player and I think my results recently have shown that. I need to keep moving forward – it will take a bit more time than it did in the juniors but that’s fine, I’m 21-years-old, I have a lot of time ahead of me.
ONcourt: You are 21-years-old and it seems like you’ve been around forever. You’re an old lady of Canadian tennis and you’re 21! As far as your fitness demands, what kind of program do you have? Who’s in charge of it?
SF: I’m working with a trainer at the Toronto Lawn right now. I was working with Andre Parent but not being based in Montreal, I was more a few years ago but it’s a lot of travel and when I’m not playing I don’t want to be away from home so I’ve shifted all that. When I’m in Toronto it’s a lot of fitness and I’m dedicating five-six days a week to fitness. At least an hour and a half a day. It’s so important, especially with my game style, I need high stamina on the court. I need a lot of strength, a lot of power, because I rely so much on my movement as well as the skills I have on the court. In order to keep up with the week-in week-out competition against such high-level players you have to be able to learn from that. I think it’s very important. I base everything out of Toronto now so I’m very happy with it.
ONcourt: Tell me, last question: top 100 is of course the first step before we think top 50. How long do you think that might take you, and what do you feel you have to do in order to reach that level?
SF: Who knows how long it will take. The sooner the better. I have goals obviously. I’d like to be in the main draw of the slam next year without having to qualify. That would be great. In terms of what I have to do to get there – I need to commit to the things my coach Larry Jarovich and I have been working on. We’re really trying to take my game to the next level in terms of adding some more weapons as well as honing the weapons that I have. I think I’ve been doing a really good job of that since we’ve nailed down what I really want to do. I just have to keep committing to it. The biggest thing is believing; if you really believe that you can do something and you try your best it takes you a lot further. That’s really the big thing for me.
ONcourt: Last question. I said last question before but I’m going to ask him [Larry] the same thing. What about Larry Jarovich? How has he helped you? What does he bring that’s so helpful?
SF: That’s a loaded question because there’s so much I can say, but I will do my best to keep it short. Larry, he’s fantastic. I think he’s one of the hidden gems in Canadian tennis as far as coaching. I’m so happy and thankful to be working with him. He expressed interest in working with me last year and I couldn’t be happier about it. He’s so knowledgeable, he’s very patient, he’s very clear-minded, he doesn’t let emotions cloud anything. He doesn’t go too high or too low and that’s perfect for me because I’m quite the opposite. I’m very passionate, I have a lot of emotion and energy and I want to succeed so badly that sometimes it does get in my way and he’s really good at keeping level-headed about everything. The biggest thing that’s been really great is I really agree on the vision he has for my game. We kind of sit down and talk about it. He doesn’t tell me what to do we discuss and then we go from there, it’s a team thing. We’re both on the same page and I’m very excited about it. The relationship between him and I, coach-player, is really productive. He knows when to push me, when to hold back, when I’m getting irritated, or when I need more motivation. It’s really good I think we’re at a good spot and I’m really benefiting for working with him so I’m very happy.
ONcourt: I want you to know that for all of us who have seen you over the years, although you’re old at 21 we can’t wait for you to be in the top 100 because we love to watch you play, love to watch you fight.
SF: Thank you, thanks Pierre I appreciate it.