Top photo: Wikimedia/ Carine06
Austrian Davis Cup Player in D.C.
By Thorsten Eisingerich
Austrian tennis pro Alexander Peya and his Polish double partner Lukasz Kubot made it to the double’s finals at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. After a well-deserved shower and massage following that tough match in the scorching July heat, Peya was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Where in Austria are you from and who brought you to the tennis court?
I was born and raised in Vienna, in Simmering. So I am a proud Viennese and cannot imagine living anywhere else. I got to the tennis court through my parents: They were hobby players and back in the 80s, there was a huge tennis boom going on in Austria and we were part of that.
For which Austrian tennis teams did you play, and do you still follow them or meet your team-mates from the old days?
Although tennis is not a typical team sport in Austria, we have a Bundesliga and so I played for a couple of teams.
What was your home base?
I played for GAK in Graz for a long time. I did not play for the last two to three years but the years before that, I was with Gleisdorf (Styria) and now I am back with them. I had also played for Post SV in Vienna for a couple of years when I was younger.
So you do find the time to play Bundesliga during your busy ATP career?
It is tough and challenging nowadays: I was so busy and I did not play Bundesliga for some time, but now we have the final 4 in September. I am planning to play that, unless I make it to the finals of the U.S. Open (laughs).
So we keep our fingers crossed for you. Does your family follow you on the tour?
Yes, I have my wife and two boys.The older one is in kindergarten now and needs his routine. But still, they try to come along whenever possible and whenever it is convenient. They are going to come to the U.S. at the end of this trip, visiting Cincinnati and New York. I always enjoy having them around.
When did you turn pro and what gave you the confidence to take this step?
Well, it has always been my plan, like when a little kid dreams of being a pro and playing the big tournaments. I went to a special school system at Südstadt, south of Vienna that allowed me to practice even more: We had school only from noon to 3:30 p.m. in order to have two practices a day. That helped me a lot. After my military draft, I became a full-time pro in 1999. It has been a long time now.
Your career earnings are available online, but what is your ratio between prize money and sponsor money?
For me, it is mostly prize money as there are no big sponsors for tennis in Austria. I see you wear gear from a company based in Baltimore, so you have some link to the U.S.! I have to thank my sponsors a lot, since the expenses on the circuit are huge and you have to pay for everything on your own: Every flight, the flights of your coach, etc. – that’s tough. To travel with your coach can get very expensive, so you always have to balance things a little bit. That is why I did not take him along this time.
Did you play doubles from the start or did you go on the single circuit tour?
I started playing both because I always enjoyed doubles, but focused on singles until 2010. Ever since, I have only been playing doubles.
Are you playing at the Olympics, and do you think that tennis is a sport that rightly belongs there?
Yes I will! It might be a bit odd, but I think it is getting there, although tennis is not a classic Olympic sport. We have many big tournaments during the year which are always a priority. But it is growing and growing. I remember that twenty years ago tennis was not really big at the Olympics since so many big names did not play. But now, the big players are chasing medals, which is nice.
What is your favorite surface?
I really like grass courts.
What is your record on grass?
I really do not know about my record, but I usually play well.This year however, we lost in the first round in Wimbledon - that was not a good time. But usually we do pretty well.
Which tournaments will you be playing in the U.S. this year and what was your biggest achievement so far in the U.S. and career-wise?
After Washington, we go to Toronto, followed by the Olympics in Rio. Then we come back to the U.S. for Cincinnati - a very big event - then the U.S. Open. That is the end of the U.S. swing. My biggest career result was the finals at the U.S. Open - that was a good one!
You played the double’s final at the CITI Open here in Washington today: Are there mixed feelings since you started off so well with a break - what went wrong after that?
We could not take the momentum of the break, so we lost our serve right away. That was a very crucial point: Especially on doubles, if you make a break you’ve got to run away with it - that puts a lot of pressure on your opponents. It is always closer in doubles, so when you click for 10 to 15 minutes, you can always turn around matches but this time, we could not make it in the end.
At the very end, one of your opponents was completely exhausted and needed medical help, so one guy was missing on the finalist’s photo – that is something really unique.
I have never seen this before either, but he is better now and trying to catch his flight.
One last question, is there any vacation time for a tennis pro between the ATP tour and the Bundesliga, and if so, when is it upcoming and where are you heading?
I do not know yet, our vacation time is towards the end of the year as the only part of the season without tournaments ranges from mid-November until January, i.e. one and a half months. So you’ve got to take a vacation at end of November, and start your preparations for the next season afterwards. Obviously, you have to fly far from Austria at that time in order to find a beach somewhere if you want the heat - unless you want to ski which I do not do, due to the risk of injuries. The last few years, we actually did not fly anywhere because of the kids. I think the last time we went away was three years ago. But this year we hopefully will make it somewhere. My wife is half Austrian and half Filipino and we always like to go to Asia if we come up with a good spot.
Excellent! Shared fate as my wife is Thai, so Southeast Asia is always on board... Thank you very much for taking the time for talking to Austrian Information.