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站在人生十字路口的华裔网球姑娘

更新时间:2017-8-18 10:21:02 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Claire Liu, a Rising Teenage Tennis Player, Reaches a Crossroad
站在人生十字路口的华裔网球姑娘

LOS ANGELES — During a recent practice, Claire Liu sent an easy forehand sailing to the fence beyond the baseline and pressed a palm to her forehead.

洛杉矶——在前不久的一次练习中,刘婧文(Claire Liu)把一记轻松的正手球打出了底线以外的围栏,不禁用手捂住了前额。

“Smile, you’re having fun,” said Chris Tontz, Liu’s coach.

“笑一笑,你玩得正开心呢,”她的教练克里斯·托茨(Chris Tontz)说。

“Am I?” she said with a laugh.

“是吗?”她笑着说。

She should be. Liu, 17, is currently the top-ranked junior in the world and the No. 292 player in WTA rankings. In the last three months, Liu has won two titles on the Pro Circuit, a level below the WTA Tour, and become the first American to win the Wimbledon girls’ title since Chanda Rubin in 1992. She made her main-draw debut in a WTA tournament this month at the Bank of the West Classic, where she led Nicole Gibbs, 5-2, in the third set before fading and losing in a tiebreaker in the first round.

她应该开心。17岁的刘婧文是目前世界排名第一的青少年选手,WTA排名第292。在过去三个月中,她在比WTA巡回赛低一级别的职业巡回赛(Pro Circuit)中获得两项冠军,并成为继1992年钱达·鲁宾(Chanda Rubin)夺冠后第一位获得温布尔登女单青少年组冠军的美国人。本月的美国西部银行经典赛(Bank of the West Classic)是她在WTA巡回赛正式赛事上的首次亮相,比赛中她在第三盘以5-2领先尼古拉·吉布斯(Nicole Gibbs),之后表现下滑,在首轮输掉了决胜局。

Liu first garnered attention in 2015 when she won a Pro Circuit title in Orlando, Fla., at 14, becoming the youngest woman to win a pro tournament since Anna Kournikova in 1996. Three months later, after turning 15, she reached the final round of qualifying at the United States Open.

刘婧文于2015年首次获得关注,当时14岁的她在佛罗里达州奥兰多赢得一项职业巡回赛冠军,成为自1996年安娜·库尔尼科娃(Anna Kournikova)以来最年轻的职业赛事女子冠军。三个月后,年满15岁的她的打入美国公开赛资格赛的最后一轮。

Despite the pressure that comes with such results, Liu is pushing back against the typical narrative of a rising teenage tennis player. Now, she has reached a crucial point in her development, choosing between going to college and turning pro.

这样的成绩势必带来压力,然而刘婧文还是在抵制对一个少年网球新星的典型叙事。如今她已经来到个人发展的一个关键时刻,要在上大学和成为职业球员之间做出抉择。

Liu is part of a large group of promising American women, most of whom have already turned pro. CiCi Bellis, 18, is in the top 40. Kayla Day, 17, is in the top 150. Amanda Anisimova, 15, played her first main-draw match of a Grand Slam event at this year’s French Open.

如今美国有一大批前途无量的女球手,刘婧文是其中之一,然而她们大多已经转向职业。18岁的茜茜·贝丽斯(CiCi Bellis)排在前40。15岁的凯拉·戴(Kayla Day)排在前150。15岁的阿曼达·阿尼西莫娃(Amanda Anisimova)在今年的法国公开赛上打了平生第一场大满贯正赛。

Liu has never lost to Anisimova, and she beat Day en route to a title in Naples, Fla., three months ago. But unlike her teenage counterparts, Liu, with a year of school left, has kept college in her sights.

刘婧文对阿尼西莫娃保持全胜,三个月前在佛罗里达州那不勒斯的一项赛事中战胜过戴,并拿到冠军。不过和这些少年对手不同的是,离高中毕业还有一年的刘婧文一直在考虑上大学。

Liu’s story differs in many ways from her peers’.

刘婧文的故事在很多方面是和同龄人不一样的。

Unlike a majority of top juniors, Liu has never attended a tennis academy and did not leave home to pursue the sport. She grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and spent the last eight years training at the United States Tennis Association site in Carson, 51 miles away. Liu’s mother, Wen, drives her to and from practice every day.

不同于多数顶尖的青少年选手,她从没上过网球学校,也没有为了打球而离家。她在加州千橡市(Thousand Oaks)长大,到51英里开外卡森的美国网球协会(United States Tennis Association)所在地受训。刘婧文的妈妈周雯每天开车接送她训练。

She has no parent-coach and does not come from a tennis background. Her parents, both Chinese immigrants, are chemists. She has no agent, but plenty of offers. And she has no entourage at tournaments; only Tontz, who is on the U.S.T.A.’s coaching staff, accompanies her.

她的父母不是教练,不是网球家庭出身。她的父母都是化学家,是来自中国的移民。她没有经纪人,但有不少邀约。她出门比赛没有一大群跟班;只有供职于网协的教练托茨陪着她。

“I try to keep everything light right now, and Chris really helps with that.” Liu said.

“目前我希望尽可能简便一些,这方面克里斯真是帮了大忙,”刘婧文说。

Her parents took an interest in tennis after attending a tournament at U.C.L.A. and the joint ATP-WTA event in Indian Wells, Calif.

她的父母当年在加州大学看了一场巡回赛,还有在加州印第安维尔斯的一项ATP-WTA合并赛事,从此对网球产生了兴趣。

“We had never seen tennis courts before coming to the States,” Wen Liu said.

“我们在来美国之前没见过网球场,”周雯说。

She and her husband, Longbin, joined a recreational league and took lessons. Their daughter would use their rackets and knock balls around the living room.

她和丈夫龙斌(音)参加了一个消遣性的联赛,开始上网球课。他们的女儿会在客厅里玩他们的球拍,把球打得到处都是。

Mike Gennette gave Liu her first lessons when she was 5. “You could kind of just tell she was special,” he said.

在她五岁那年,迈克·詹内特(Mike Gennette)给她上了第一堂网球课。“基本上一看就知道她与众不同,”他说。

Gennette, the coach of California Lutheran University’s men’s tennis program, immediately noticed that Liu could put topspin on the ball. When Liu was 8, he said, she had great footwork and court awareness.

詹内特是加州路德大学(California Lutheran University)男子网球班的教练,他很快注意到,刘婧文可以打出上旋球。他说到了八岁的时候,她已经有了极佳的步法和球场意识。

“She was able to hit an on-the-rise drive, on the run, with a change of direction,” Gennette said. “And she could do it consistently. She was just better than the rest, with more skills to fall back on.”

“她能在变向跑动中打上升球,”詹内特说。“而且是有持续性的。她明显比其他人强,掌握着更多应对不利局面的技巧。”

In her earliest tournaments, Liu went deep into regional and national draws. Around this time, many young hopefuls would have moved to South Florida, where many Grand Slam champions have started their journeys. But Liu stayed home.

在最初的巡回赛中,刘婧文已经可以在地区和国家级比赛里走到很远。许多有抱负的年轻人这时候会选择搬到南佛罗里达去,有许多大满贯赛事冠军是在那里起步的。但是刘婧文一直待在家中。

“I never felt pressure to follow everyone else,” Liu said. “My coaches and parents were really supportive in letting me make my own decisions, and not pressuring anything.”

“我从来不觉得自己有跟随其他人的必要,”刘婧文说。“我的教练和父母很支持我,让我自己做决定,没有施加任何压力。”

Breaking the mold motivated Liu to practice seven days a week.

打破常规的意愿促使她选择了一周七天的训练方式。

“I told her she had to take a day off, but she just wouldn’t do it,” Gennette said.

“我跟她说一定要休一天的,但她就是不听,”詹内特说。

She also read “A Champion’s Mind” by Pete Sampras; “Open” by Andre Agassi; “Beyond Center Court” by Tracy Austin; “Holding Serve” by Michael Chang; and “Rafa” by Rafael Nadal. Perhaps that was why Martin Blackman, general manager of player development for the U.S.T.A., said Liu “has one of the highest tennis I.Q.s of any young player on court right now.”

她还读了皮特·桑普拉斯(Pete Sampras)的《冠军头脑》(A Champion’s Mind)、安德烈·阿加西(Andre Agassi)的《开放》(Open)、特蕾西·奥斯汀(Tracy Austin)的《中央球场之外》(Beyond Center Court)、张德培(Michael Chang)的《掌握人生发球权》(Holding Serve)和拉菲尔·纳达尔(Rafael Nadal)的《拉法》(Rafa)。或许正因如此,美国网联负责球员发展的总经理马丁·布莱克曼(Martin Blackman)说,刘婧文是“现役年轻球员中球商最高的选手之一。”

The Liu family home is far from a shrine to tennis. There are hardly any trophies in sight, and the only noticeable tennis balls are used by the family dog, a German shepherd named Buddy.

刘家远非什么网球殿堂。家里几乎看不到任何奖杯,唯一看得到的网球是给家里一只名叫“巴迪”的德国牧羊犬用的。

“My house is like an escape, where I don’t have to think about tennis,” Liu said. “We don’t talk about tennis.”

“我的家就像是避风港,在这里我用不着考虑网球,”刘婧文说。“我们之间不谈网球。”

They don’t need to. They know Liu’s ultimate goals: to win Grand Slam titles and be No. 1.

他们不需要谈。他们都知道刘婧文的终极目标:赢得大满贯冠军,成为世界第一。

“She’s fearless,” Tontz said. “She has a big serve despite being slightly shorter than the rest. She wants to come forward. She wants to take balls out of the air, and she’s got great touch.”

“她无所畏惧,”托茨说。“她的发球虽然比别人短一点,但是力量很大。她想向前。她想扣杀,她球感很好。”

Despite being only 5 feet 6 inches, Liu hits a heavy ball supplemented by quick movement and a versatile two-handed backhand.

尽管刘婧文身高只有5英尺6英寸(约合168厘米),但她击球很重,此外动作很快,双手都能灵活地反手击球。

“Over all, she knows how to play the percentages, and knows how to manage the court and score,” Blackman said. “It’s not often we see a player her age with that complete of a game.”

“总而言之,她知道怎么掌握百分比,知道如何控制球场和得分,”布莱克曼说。“这在她这个年龄的参赛选手当中是不多见的。”

For Liu, the decision whether to turn pro hangs on how she feels about her level of play on the Pro Circuit and what she wants of her life in the long run.

对于刘婧文来说,是否成为职业选手,取决于她对自己在职业巡回赛上的表现感觉如何,以及她对自己生活的长远规划。

“My family, we value education, and I think I’d get a lot from college,” she said. “But now that I’m doing better again, going pro is a bigger option.”

“我们一家人很重视教育,我想我能从大学里学到很多,”她说,“但是现在,我又打得更好了,成为职业球员是一个更大的选择。”

Liu could have turned pro at 15 after her successful 2015, but she fell into a slump last year.

2015年,15岁的刘婧文成绩很好,本可以转为职业球员,但在去年,她进入低谷。

“I was playing terrible,” Liu said. “I thought for sure I was going to college.”

“当时,我打得很糟,”刘婧文说,“当时我以为自己肯定要去上大学了。”

But in 2017, Liu has risen to the top 300 from 674th. She is the fourth youngest player in the top 300, and going pro is suddenly relevant again.

但是,在2017年,刘婧文的排名从674名上升至前300名。她是前300名中第四最年轻的球员,走职业路线突然之间再次成为一个选项。

The flow of young players to college and the pro tour is cyclical, Blackman said, and now more young women are choosing to turn pro, even though the average age of the top 100 women is 25.5.

布莱克曼表示,年轻球员选择去上大学还是参加职业巡回赛是会有周期性波动的,现在更多的年轻女球员选择走职业路线,尽管女子前100名的平均年龄是25.5岁。

“There’s not many job openings in the top 100 every year, so college tennis is becoming more competitive,” Blackman said. “And a lot of coaches are giving the flexibility to play professional tournaments, so it’s no longer an either-or proposition.”

“每年挤进前100名的机会并不是很多,所以大学的网球竞争正变得更加激烈,”布莱克曼表示。“很多教练正变得更灵活,允许学生去打职业赛事,所以不再必须是二选一。”

Liu’s mother acknowledged that she does not know much about the pro tour, so “I read and talk to people.”

刘婧文的母亲承认自己不太了解职业巡回赛,所以“我读很多东西,跟人交流”。

She and her husband have become friends with Carl Chang, the brother and the former coach of Michael Chang. They go to him for insights on the pro lifestyle.

她和丈夫成了张君培(Carl Chang)的朋友,后者是张德培的哥哥兼前任教练。他们向他请教职业球员的生活状况。

“He said you don’t really make a good career even if you get to the top 50,” Wen Liu said. “If you’re around 50, it’s like a journeyman, you travel and break even. It’s a tough job, and it can be lonely.”

“他说,就算你进入前50,也不一定能成就很好的事业,”周雯说。“如果你在50名左右,你就像个普通工作者,你去参加巡回赛,基本上收支相抵。那是一份很艰苦的工作,可能非常孤独。”

The United States Open, which begins in late August, will be Liu’s moment of reckoning. Around that time, she could break into the top 200, which Blackman sees as the best indicator of whether a junior woman should turn pro.

8月底开始的美国公开赛将成为评判刘婧文的时刻。差不多在那个时候,她可能挤进前200,布莱克曼认为那是评判一名年轻女球员是否应该走职业路线的最佳指标。

Liu had a chance to earn a spot in the main draw of the Open at the U.S.T.A. National Hard Court Championships in San Diego last week. In the quarterfinals, Liu lost to the No. 2 junior, Whitney Osuigwe, 15, who trains at the IMG Academy in Florida and has committed to being a professional.

上周,刘婧文有可能获得参加美国网联在圣迭戈举行的全国硬地网球锦标赛(National Hard Court Championships)主赛的机会。刘婧文在四分之一决赛中输给了第二年轻的球员、15岁的惠特尼·奥斯维格(Whitney Osuigwe),后者在佛罗里达州的IMG学院(IMG Academy)受训,立志成为一名职业球员。

Liu got a wild card into the Open qualifying draw and probably will play the junior tournament if she misses out on the main draw.

刘婧文能以外卡参赛选手的身分参加公开赛的资格赛。如果她不能参加主赛,将很可能参加青少年锦标赛。

There is still much to juggle. With one more year of school — she has been taking online classes since ninth grade — Liu will continue training from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Carson and traveling biweekly for tournaments.

她还有很多事情要做。她还有一年才从高中毕业——她从九年级起接受网络授课——她将继续从上午8点至下午4点在卡森受训,每两周去参加赛事。

“I can feel the expectation to win growing,” she said. “But I remind myself that it’s all about development. And there’s no rush. I’m just trying to keep tennis fun.”

“我能感觉到,人们对我获胜的期望在增加,”她说。“但我提醒自己,最重要的是发展。不用着急。我尽量把打网球当成一种乐趣。”

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