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Vanessa Atkinson, Dutch Nationals Champion, aiming higher
Interview with Martin Bronstein, June 1999 copyright © 1999, Martin Bronstein and Squashtalk. Reproduction prohibited.

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Redhead from The Hague, stays on the attack

Vanessa Atkinson, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Age: 23.
WISPA ranking: 17.
Background:Born in England, moved to Holland as a child when her father, a civil engineer, got a contract to work in that country. Began playing squash in Dordrecht, Holland.
Home: Lives in The Hague with Billy Haddrell and a scruffy dog.

WHO GOT YOU INTO SQUASH?

Both my parents are very good and fanatical squash players and I started when I was about ten. I first took it seriously when I was fourteen. Then I got picked up by Dutch Association when I was 15 and participated in junior squads and tournaments. That was when I realised I could be quite good as I was beating the other people in my age groups.

WHO WAS YOUR FIRST COACH?

Arthur Smit was my coach from 12 to 16. Then I started training seriously with Rory Watt, former New Zealand international, who was the club coach at the HSRC in The Hague. He put a lot of things right technically and tactically that I wasn't doing very well. Now I train with Liz Irving - I drive into Amsterdam twice a week which is just half an hour away from The Hague.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST TITLE?

I won the national under 19 title when I was 16 and I have just won my fourth national title.

WHO ARE YOUR MAIN TRAINING PARNERS?

I keep sharp by playing Liz Irving, my boy friend Billy Haddrell and the top boys at my club. At the moment I'm trying to get myself fit so I am doing more off-court work. Liz is advising me on fitness. I hate running but I still try to do some running regularly and we are focussing on a lot of gym work and weights to make me stronger. My improvement will come with higher fitness levels. Hopefully I will be able to push myself a bit more mentally and also change my game tactically. I will be able to stay on court longer. Now I tend to want to finish the ball off as soon as I can. I'm a very attacking player, anyway. But in the past that has been because I was not fit enough. I was scared of long rallies, but now I will have the confidence to stay on court longer.

WHAT ARE YOU SHORT TERM AIMS?

The top 16 would be nice in the very near future. That helps you get higher because it is a break-point for your seeding position in a tournament draw and for getting the best seeding for 16-person draw qualifiers. So if I can get into the top 16 before September when the big tournaments in Egypt, the World's and America, it will make a big difference in my ranking.

TELL US WHAT YOUR BIGGEST VICTORY SO FAR HAS BEEN?

I beat Sabine Schoene in the European team championships this spring. It wasn't a WISPA event but that was my first victory over a top ten player.

WHICH PLAYERS DO YOU ADMIRE ESPECIALLY?

Michelle Martin because she's very professional and gives off unbelievable presence on court - very intimidating to play against. She's got an an unbelievable game, very strong, very consistent. Sarah Fitz-Gerald is a lovely person, down to earth. You couldn't meet a nicer person, so I admire her especially.

You can reach Martin Bronstein by email in London at Email: Martin@gbronstein.freeserve.co.uk

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