Moving from the court to the commentary box
Belinda Cordwell can’t stop laughing when she recalls her first appearance at the Auckland tournament - known as the Nutrimetrics International - back in 1986.
New Zealand’s top professional player was ranked about no. 60 in the world at the time.
“I think I was the tournament’s top seed. I played Stephanie Faulkner, who I think from memory was working in a Brisbane supermarket. I lost 0-6 7-6 0-6.
“I felt humiliated but she was simply better than me on the day. The funniest part of that story was she came back the next year and beat me again. “
The 1989 Auckland finalist now lives in the south Wairarapa and is an at home mother to Rosie, Henry and Will. She’s just started doing a little bit of tennis coaching.
Cordwell favours Agnieszka Radwanska this week but says the ASB Classic can offer up a few surprises.
“It’s tough picking a winner any week but particularly the first week of the year.”
“Players like Heather Watson seem to have everything going for them. You really hope the players that appeal to you have a great year.”
Meanwhile former Austrian professional Barbara Schett last played in Auckland 12 years ago. She still enjoys the odd hit at legends events at the Grand Slams, but she prefers being behind the microphone for Eurosport.
“I’m still in tennis because that’s what I love. But I don’t want to be out there any more. I prefer watching it.”
The former world no. 7 now lives between homes in Noosa and Austria with husband and former tennis professional Josh Eagle and their son Noah. She is also an ambassador for her home tournament in Linz.
This week she thinks Radwanska will be pushed by Germans Julia Goerges and Mona Barthel, but what she’d really love to see is more variety in the modern game.
“The play is a fair bit faster than it used to be but I’d like to see a bit more variation – the short angles and the slice.”