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Lepchenko thanks McEnroe and USTA

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Originally published on: 12/06/12 00:00

Varvara Lepchenko, who is up to a career-high No.52 in the world rankings, says her progress could not have been possible without the support of Patrick McEnroe and his team of coaches at the US Tennis Association. Lepchenko, who was born and raised in Uzbekistan, has lived in the United States since she was 15 and recently became a US citizen.

It has been a hard road for her whole family. Initially it was Lepchenko, her father and her sister who moved to the United States. Visa problems meant they did not see Lepchenko’s mother, who had to stay in Uzbekistan, for four years.

Lepchenko, 26, said she received good encouragement from USTA coaches last year. “They told me: ‘You’ve got to believe in yourself. You have great strokes, great potential. If you work as hard as you work right now, you will reach the top 50’.”

After the Australian Open, where she lost to Daniela Hantuchova in the fourth round, Lepchenko had a conversation with McEnroe, who is the USTA’s General Manager of Player Development.  “He said: ‘We need more women in the second week of Grand Slams.’ I said: ‘You know what? I'm going to work even harder. Hopefully you'll see me in the second week.’

“The whole team has been believing in me so much and giving me inspirational quotes all the time, saying I can do it. They have been there, fighting for me, and they have given me coaches, given me everything that I need.”

Lepchenko’s hard work paid off at the French Open, where her run to the fourth round ensured that she would become the US No.4 this week behind the Williams sisters and Christina McHale, meaning that she can play in the Olympic Games.

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