Elza Tomase – Liepaja Sports women of the year

February 18, 2021 in the virtual ceremony took place “Liepāja Sports Laureate 2020” (Liepājas Sporta laureāts 2020), in which Liepaja sports personalities were congratulated on their victories and achievements last year! Liepaja Tennis sport school student, tennis player Elza Tomase won the award of “Athlete of the Year” for the victory in the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour W15 tournament “Liepāja Open”. A tennis tournament of this scale took place in Liepaja for the first time.

Elza Tomase iegūstot 2020.gada sportistes apbalvojumu
Elza Tomase receiving the Athlete of the Year award

Receiving the Liepāja Athlete of the Year award, Elza Tomase looked back to 2020 and highlighted that the beginning of the year was very shining for her, as she won the ITF W15 tournament, which took place in Liepāja. The feelings after the victory were indescribable. Even after winning each game and making it to the next round of the tournament, Elza was very happy.

“This was my first professional tournament, after which I immediately entered the WTA ranking. After that, I also took part in some other tournaments, where I did quite well.”

Elza Tomase

In 2020, the whole world was hit by a pandemic that changed the lives of many people. Plans of Elza were also suspended, such as participation in the Roland Garros tournament.

“Winning in Liepaja, I realized that I can play against adult women. In the finals I played against a 28 year old professional tennis player and it was a great experience for me. Since my junior career is over, I’m definitely looking to play in professional tournaments in the future.”

Elza Tomase

In the future plans of Elza Tomase the main event is the planned studies in the USA, which will start in August 2021. Elza will study in the University of Tennessee, where a Liepaja tennis representative – Rebeka Margareta Mertena – is already studying.

Elza Tomase uzvarot ITF W15 Liepājas turnīrā
Elza Tomase victory in ITF W15 Liepāja tournament

Liepaja Tennis sport school congratulates Elza Tomase on this achievement and we wish for her to receive even higher awards in the future.

Our girls will conquer US tennis courts

In the website of US Embasy in Latvia it’s said, that the USA university system is one of the biggest and best systems in the world with great study programmes in almost every field. The degrees are recognized worldwide for their excellence. Studying in American universities is very expensive. Consequently, for many who want to study in the United States, it seems like an unattainable dream. However, there are various options and support systems to keep tuition costs in the US lower or even non-existent.

2017.gada 7.maijā visas trīs liepājnieces kāpa LTS kausa 5.posmā U18 vecuma grupai. Cerams, ka visas trīs liepājnieces arī ASV spēs aizņemt visu goda pjedestālu. (no kreisās - Patrīcija Špaka, Rebeka Margareta Mertena, Elza Tomase).

On May 7, 2017, all three Liepaja Tennis sport school students took the podium of U18 age group in the 5th stage of the LTS Cup. We hope that all three girls will get on the podiums in the USA. (from left – Patrīcija Špaka, Rebeka Margareta Mertena, Elza Tomase).

So far, several former graduates of Liepāja Tennis sport school have obtained higher education in the USA, additionally combining it with a game of tennis. This year, two graduates of Liepāja Tennis sport school have signed agreements on studies in the USA – Elza Tomase chose to study in University of Tennessee, but Patrīcija Špaka chose Arizona State University. It should be noted, that in University of Tennessee last year her studies began Liepaja Tennis sport school graduate Rebeka Margareta Mertena. Meanwhile, Liepaja Tennis sport school coach Katrīna Samoilova studied in Western Kentucky University from 2009 till 2013. To find out how our girls managed to get into these universities, we invited them to share their experiences.

Rebeka Margareta Mertena – “Now, while at university, there is a much greater understanding of the admission process and it is interesting to see what schools made me offers.”

Rebeka Margareta Mertena Tenesī universitātes formā

Rebeka Margareta Mertena studies in the University of Tennessee

At the beginning of the conversation, all four Liepaja women shared their thoughts that studying in the USA has been their dream for a long time. One of the reasons is that while studying at these universities, you have the opportunity to play tennis at a high level. Extra motivation to study in the United States for Patrīcija occurred when at the age of 12, she along with other Liepaja Tennis sport school students had the opportunity to travel to the US for a month and take part in various training and competitions. Meanwhile, Rebeka received additional motivation by the study experience of other Latvian tennis players in the USA and she realized that it is something unique and such an opportunity should be used.. For Katrīna, studying in the USA was a goal at an early age, because she knew that several students of Liepāja Tennis sport school had gone there to study..

Patrīcija Špaka – “It is very important that in the selection process you have the opportunity to consult and ask for advice from people who have gone through this difficult process themselves! This is probably one of the main lessons – feel free to ask for advice!”

Arizonas Štata universitātes paziņojums par Patrīcijas Špakas uzņemšanu

Arizona State University announcement on Patrīcija Špaka admission

Responding to the application process at US universities, Elza noted that the process had been relatively difficult. It was necessary to pass two specialized examinations in English, as the requirements and assessment criteria of each university differed. Of course, the more prestigious and better the university, the stricter the entry requirements. Patrīcija said that the first interest in her was received from US universities when she was in 9th grade. At first, Patricia felt this too quickly, but later realized that the process was normal practice. In this way, universities show a genuine interest in attracting new students and players. Rebeka pointed out that the whole application process took her a year and a half. All three tennis players confirmed that the application process at US universities is long and tedious, as they have to choose a university from a wide range of offers and at the same time attend in interviews. As there is a difference of several hours between Latvia and the USA, the interviews with universities took place relatively late. Given that they continued to take part in various competitions, it happened that these interviews took place during the tournaments, when all the focus was on the games. However, these interviews helped universities to understand tennis, and they also gave girls the opportunity to understand what they would like to study and where to spend the next four years of life.

Elza Tomase – “I am very happy to be able to study at one of the best universities in the United States!”

Tenesī universitātes paziņojums par Elzas Tomases uzņemšanu

University of Tennessee announcement on Elza Tomase admission

Sharing her thoughts on choosing a particular university, Patrīcija mentions that she had identified a number of key factors: the university’s tennis and learning rankings, the curricula on offer, and factors such as the weather at the university’s locations. However, one of the most important factors was contact and cooperation with coaches and the team. Rebeka also based the choice of the particular university on coaches, friendly atmosphere and feeling of being in safe hands, as well as the location of the university. Elza, on the other hand, took into account the level of tennis at each university, but the final decision was made by choosing between two universities. The University of Tennessee was preferred because it is one of the 20 leading universities in tennis in the United States that met her criteria. Another important factor in the decision was the fact that Elza’s best friend Rebeka is already studying there.

Katrīna Samoilova – “While studying in the United States, I have gained a lot – education, friends, and life experience, which is a great value”.

Katrīna Samoilova 2013.gadā absolvējot Rietumu Kentuki universitāti

Katrīna Samoilova in 2013, graduating from the Western Kentucky University

When the contracts were signed, the girls felt great and filled with joy and, in a sense, relief, that they no longer had to worry about what to do after high school and that this difficult, tedious and long application process was over.

In describing her chosen University, Patrīcija emphasized that the Arizona State University is one of the oldest universities in the United States, with more than 50,000 students. The university is located near the city of Phoenix in Tempe and it is very hot there. The university also has a rich sports tradition in several sports – basketball, American football and also tennis, where it is a stable Top 20 team with great ambitions. The university also offers a very wide curriculum and has the opportunity to learn a variety of professions. Elza knew that the University of Tennessee, based in Knoxville, offers more than 170 study programs and is located next to one of the most visited national parks in the United States. Rebeka added that the University of Tennessee is a large public school that is good at both the academic and sports levels and that sport is a big part of the university. American football is very popular and the stadium of a university team can accommodate more than a hundred thousand spectators. Describing the Western Kentucky University, Katrīna highlighted the fact that it is an international university with students from many countries around the world, so there is an opportunity to get to know different cultures. Western Kentucky University campus is one of the 10 best university campuses in America, where everything is designed to make students feel good and safe.

Asked to describe her experience of studying at the University of Tennessee, Rebeka said that university life is cool, but the schedule for athletes is quite busy, because a lot of time is spent both studying and training. It was hard to get used to at first, but over time it became normal. In addition to training and exercises, of course, you must also participate in tournaments, to which the whole team goes to together. At first, Rebeka thought that it will be difficult to fit in, but in reality it was easy. The team and the university staff are very helpful in adapting and making sure that the new students cope with everything. Rebeka describes the first year of study at the university as excellent, because she got acquinted with many new people. In many competitions she started with good results. Asked for advice from others planning to study in the United States, Rebeka said that it is essential not to give in to the slightest hurdles, to take on challenges, and to see studying in the United States as a huge opportunity and not as something intimidating.

Sharing her experience of studying, Katrīna said that at the beginning it was very difficult for her to get used to it, because she had to get used to the new life and understand how everything is going there. She also lacked a family presence. However, gradually getting acquainted with the teammates, as well as other Latvians studying at the university, who trained in athletics, Katrīna gradually felt like in her second home. One of the first teammates Katrīna met, they developed a very friendly relationship and are still in regular contact. At the university, Katrīna studied hotel, restaurant and tourism management. She really enjoyed this educational program because the lecturers regularly shared practical examples from real life and their personal experiences. For anyone planning to study in the United States, Katrīna definitely recommends enjoying this time. As someone who helped her get to the United States had told her that if she could survive America, then life wouldn’t seem difficult anymore. Katrīna definitely agrees with this statement.

At Liepaja Championships few medals stay at home

September 19 and 20 in Liepaja took place “Liepājas meistarsacensības by Ferax” (Liepaja Championship by Ferax) for adults. Victory at women competition was celebrated by our Alise Vindiga, 2nd place at men competition was taken by our Eduards Grodskis, but 2nd place for women took our Paula Jankova.At the tournament competed 9 men and 5 women. Liepaja Tennis sport school was represented by Martins Ivanovs, Eduards Grodskis, Alise Vindiga, Paula Jankova, Anastasija Rižkova and Karolīna Skābe.At men competition best result from our representatives had Eduards Grodskis by getting into the Final. On the way to Final he won over 1st seeded Mārtiņš Jaunzems (Mārupes TS) with 6-1 6-3. In Final 4-6 6-7(3) Eduards lost to 2nd seeded Jānis Auslands (LSNT akadēmija). So at the end our Eduards Grodskis finished in 2nd place at Liepaja Championship by Ferax.Medalists at men competition:
1st place – Jānis Auslands (LSNT akadēmija)
2nd place – Eduards Grodskis (Liepaja Tennis sport school)
3rd place – Jānis Krastiņš (PTA tenisa klubs)At women competition, due to smaller participant number, the tournament was played in group game system, where every player had to play against every opponent. By having all easy wins, the 1st place at the tournament was taken by our Alise Vindiga (Liepaja Tennis sport school). Loosing only one game, 2nd place was taken by our Paula Jankova (Liepaja Tennis sport school), but in 3rd place came Līva Lūse (Enri TK).With “Liepāja Championship by Ferax” for adults, the Liepaja Championships has finished. They were organized for U12, U14, U18 age groups and adults. Liepaja Tennis sport school thanks to the supporters of the tournament – Liepaja company “Ferax” (https://www.facebook.com/ferax.lv) and Liepaja municipality. Special thanks goes to Andrejs Žukovs.

Patrīcija Špaka becomes Latvian champion in tennis

July 26-30 in Jūrmala took place Latvian adult championship in tennis organized by Latvian Tennis Union. In women singles victory and the Latvian champion title was won by our Patrīcija Špaka. In women doubles victory was celebrated by our Patrīcija Špaka and Elza Tomase, meanwhile Alise Vindiga finished 2nd.

Liepaja Tennis sport school in Latvian adult championship was represented by Matīss Šteinhards, Toms Rolis, Dāvis Rolis, Dāvids Špaks, Elza Tomase, Alise Vindiga, Patrīcija Špaka, Veronika Jociene and Marta Poriete. All our representatives began in Main draw.

In men competition unfortunately Toms Rolis couldn’t get into the 2nd round, meanwhile Matīss Šteinhards, Dāvis Rolis and Dāvids Špaks couldn’t overcome the 2nd round. In men doubles best result had Dāvids Špaks, who played together with Reinis Kupfers (ACB/VL tenisa skola). Dāvids and Reinis got till the Semifinal, but lost with 3-6 6-3 5-10 to the next Doubles champions.

In women competition Veronika Jociene and Marta Poriete couldn’t get into the 2nd round, but Elza Tomase and Alise Vindiga couldn’t pass the 2nd round. Meanwhile Patrīcija Špaka with good games got till the Semifinal, where with 7-6(1) 6-4 granted a place in Final against Valērija Maija Kargina (Tennis Pro Academy). In Final with 6-0 6-3 victory and Latvian champion title was won by our Patrīcija Špaka. In women doubles best result had Patrīcija Špaka and Elza Tomase who both played together. Liepaja pair got till the Final, where with 6-2 6-1 both our girls – Patrīcija Špaka and Elza Tomase became Latvian adult champions in womens doubles, by winning over Dārta Daļecka (ACB/VL tenisa skola) and our Alise Vindiga, who finished with Silver.

Patrīcija Špaka wins in Riga championship

July 17-19 in Riga took place LTU Cup 4th leg for adults, which at the same time was as well Riga Championship. Victory was celebrated by our Patrīcija Špaka.Liepaja Tennis sport school was represented by Matīss Šteinhards, Toms Rolis, Dāvis Rolis, Dāvids Špaks, Elza Tomase, Alise Vindiga, Patrīcija Špaka and Veronika Jociene.At men competition unfortunately none from our representatives overcame the 1st round of Main draw. Meanwhile at women competition 1st seeded Elza Tomase and Patrīcija Špaka got till the Semifinal, where they had to compete for the Final against each other. In an three set game with 6-1 4-6 6-1 place in Final was granted by Patrīcija Špaka, so Elza Tomase finished in split 3rd place. In Final Patrīcija had to compete against Valerija Maija Kargina (Tennis Pro Academy) who came through Qualifiers. With 6-3 6-0 victory in the tournament was celebrated by our Patrīcija Špaka.

Patrīcija Špaka wins in LTU Cup leg

June 26-28 in Valmiera took place 3rd leg of “LTS Kauss sievietēm, vīriešiem” (LTU Cup for women and men). Liepaja Tennis sport school was represented by Toms Rolis, Matīss Šteinhards, Dāvis Rolis, Dāvids Špaks, Elza Tomase, Alise Vindiga and Patrīcija Špaka.At men competition Dāvis Rolis and Dāvids Špaks began with Qualifiers, where they managed to qualify for Main draw, where they were met by Toms Rolis and Matīss Šteinhards. In the 1st round of Main draw Dāvis Rolis with 7-5 0-6 1-6 lost to 2nd seeded Rihards Emuliņš (Mārupes TS). Meanwhile Matīss Šteinhards, Toms Rolis and Dāvids Špaks after wins in 1st round, lost to their opponents and didn’t get into the Semifinals.

At women competition 2nd seeded Elza Tomase in Quarterfinal lost to Patrīcija Špaka. Alise Vindiga after the win over 3rd seeded Adrija Runča (Mārupes TS) in Semifinal lost to Patrīcija Špaka. After winning over both Liepaja representatives Patrīcija Špaka in Final met against Valerija Maija Kargina (ACB/VL Tenisa skola). With spectacular 6-0 6-0 our Patrīcija Špaka took the victory in the 3rd leg of LTU Cup for adults.

Anastasija Sevastova nominated for Fed Cup Heart award

Balvas kandidātes. Foto: fedcup.com

Team Latvia player, our local Anastasija Sevastova for the second year in a row is nominated for the Fed Cup Heart award. This nomination Anastasija received for the win in the Fed Cup in February 2020 when team Latvia met with team USA. During the games our Anastasija with 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(4) won over the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who in the Fed Cup Singles had only victories – 14 of them.

At the end team Latvia with 2-3 lost to team USA.

The winner will be announced on May 11.

Our Elza Tomase debuts in WTA ranking

After the victory in ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour category W15 tournament “Liepaja Open” our Elza Tomase has debuted in WTA ranking.February 3, 2020 new WTA ranking was published. Thanks to the victory in ITF “Liepaja Open” tournament, 18 years old Elza Tomase has signed in the WTA ranking with 10 received points. Elza Tomase debuted at the WTA ranking in 1044th place. Elza still competes in Junior tournaments. In ITF Juniors ranking Elza Tomase at the moment is in 253rd place. Today Elza is in Moldova, where she competes in ITF Juniors tournament “J2 Chisinau”. At this tournament Elza is seeded 8th and in the 1st round she won with 5:7 6:1 6:2 over Iulia Gherman from Molodva. In 2nd round Elza will go head to head with Anna Zyryanova from Russia.We congratulate Elza Tomase with getting into the WTA rating and we wish her to climb higher in the ranking.

Additional information:
Latvian tennis players in WTA ranking (February 3, 2020):
40th place – Jeļena Ostapenko
41st place – Anastasija Sevastova
255th place – Diāna Marcinkeviča
502nd place – Daniela Vismane
918th place – Kamilla Bartone
1037th place – Margarita Ignatjeva
1044th place  – Elza Tomase
1281st place – Darja Semenistaja

In Liepaja first ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour Tournament concluded with victory of local Elza Tomase

January 20-26 in Liepaja for the first time took place Women’s World Tennis Tour W15 category tournament “Liepaja Open”. Victory in the Singles tournament was celebrated by local Elza Tomase, who in this level tournament competed for the first time.

Latvia at the ITF “Liepaja Open” was represented by 9 tennis players. Liepaja, as hometown was represented by three – Elza Tomase, Patrīcija Špaka and Alise Vindiga.Alise Vindiga began the tournament with Qualifiers, where already in the 1st round with 2:6 0:6 she lost to Melis Yasar (Sweden). Alise competed in Doubles together with other Latvian representative – Alise Runča. Unfortunately they lost in the 1st round with 2:6 5:7 to Anna Parkhomenko (Ukraine) and Lucie Petruzelova (Czech Republic).

Patrīcija Špaka began the tournament in Main draw, but in the 1st round she lost to Anna Parkhomenko (Ukraine) with 3:6 4:6.Locals Patrīcija Špaka and Elza Tomase joined their forces for Doubles tournament. In 1st round with 7:6(5) 6:2 they won over Estonians – Sofiya Chekhlystova and Helena Narmont. In Doubles Quarterfinals our girls had to compete against 1st seeded Polish pair – Weronika Falkowska and Martyna Kubka. Poles demonstrated 1st seeded game and eliminated Latvians with 6:2 6:3.

Elza Tomase her first adult ITF began already in Main draw. The 1st round Elza began with a 7:5 6:3 victory over Polina Bakhmutkina (Russia). In 2nd round with 3:6 7:6(3) 6:3 Elza knocked out other Latvian tennis player – Margarita Ignatjeva. In Quarterfinal Elza with 6:4 4:6 7:6(3) continued the tournament over Katriin Saar (Estonia). With each next game Elza showed more stable and improved game. In Semifinal with 7:6(3) 6:2 she dealt with 7th seeded Viktoria Morvayova (Slovakia) and granted herself the first ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour Final against 2nd seeded Quirine Lemoine from Netherlands. With big supporters crowd in the tennis hall Elza Tomase demonstrated willpower and insistance. With 0:6 6:3 6:1 our own Elza Tomase celebrated victory in her 1st women ITF tournament which was the 1st tournament in Liepaja.After the tournament victory Elza still couldn’t believe her success and achievement, especially when she has won already in her 1st professional tennis tournament. Elza also appreciated the great support of the supporters at the crucial moments. She pointed out, that she doesn’t have much time to celebrate the victory, because she has to prepare for the next tournaments – European juniors tournaments in Moldova, Germany and Lithuania.

With the victory in ITF W15 category “Liepaja Open” tournament, Elza Tomase has earned 10 WTA ranking points and will debut in the WTA ranking!

During the competition week supporters were eyewitnesses to emotions and moments which have not occurred in Liepaja tennis life. Because of these moments sport is interesting and breathtaking. In moments when all facts, prognosis and numbers say the opposite, in sport everything is possible and it was demonstrated by Elza Tomase with her performance. The tournament organizers – Liepaja Tennis sport school and Latvian Tennis union has unlimited joy and satisfaction for the excellent tournament and for the local Elza Tomase first achievement in such level tournament.In Doubles the victory was celebrated by 3rd seeded Katyarina Paulenka (Belarus) and Ekaterina Shalimova (Russia) who in Final with 4:6 6:3 12:10 won over 1st seeded pair from Poland – Weronika Falkowska and Martyna Kubka. After the Doubles victory Ekaterina Shalimova said that this tournament she will remember for sure as one of the best organized tournaments overall. Everything that had to be provided to the players (Warm-up field, warm-up zone, Players lounge, transportation between hotel and tennis hall) was provided in the best quality. Often in other tournaments these things are not provided by organizers. As well she said that the catering in Liepaja is in the top level. Meanwhile the other Doubles winner Katyarina Paulenka (she had birthday in her victory day) wanted to thank organizers and staff for the excellent organized competition week.

Head of Liepaja Tennis sport school Elans Zīverts would like to thank to Liepaja Municipality and Latvian Tennis union for the support to organize such level tournament in Liepaja. This tournament and the success of our tennis players is a proof, that Latvian and Liepaja tennis players level is high and this tournament is a great investment in the development of young tennis players, because they can observe high level tennis and learn from professionals in their own environment, which is not possible to have in regular everyday life. Zīverts highlighted, that this tournament will be an additional push for the development of young tennis players to gain motivation and dedication from these kind of games.

The Secretary-General of Latvian Tennis Union in looking back to ITF “Liepaja Open” first wanted to thank to Liepaja Municipality for the great collaboration. As well he had great joy that in the 1st tournament in Liepaja the winner was from Liepaja. As well as that this kind of collaboration should be organized in the future by organizing additionally different level tennis tournaments in Liepaja.

ITF Supervisor Konstantīns Zasjadko said that in tournament competed 56 tennis players from 17 countries and competed for 15 000 USD prize and WTA ranking points. Zasjadko said that the organizers provided everything that was necessary for this level tournaments – hotel, transportation, cafe, courts according to ITF regulations. Tennis players have praised the Warm-up zone, because not in all tennis halls there is such a place. Because of that Zasjadko wanted to thank the designers of the tennis hall, that hey have planned such a place in the hall. Supervisor highlighted that the tournament participants had a positive wibe, thanks to the great organizational level of the tournament. As well he thanked to the Liepaja Tennis sport school staff and Latvian Tennis union as well to Liepaja Municipality for the support and interest to have and organize such a tournament. Special gratitude has to go to the tennis supporters who came and supported their local Elza Tomase. At the Semifinal there were more than 200 supporters, but in the Final even more than 300 supporters. Thanks to the supporters the atmosphere in the tennis hall was amazing. Players are playing for the supporters, because of that they really appreciate the supporters support.

Photo: Mārtiņš Vējš

Our Agate Gurecka receives referee of the year award

Latvian tennis referee association (LTTA) at the end of year 2019 organized a vote for the best tennis referee in Latvia for 2019. Our Agate Gurecka was voted to be the best referee.For the vote were nominated 5 referees. Arnolds Japiņš (Riga) took 5th place (15%), 4th place went to Jānis Muktupāvels (Riga) (16%). In 3rd place finished our Marta Pagraba (Liepaja) (18%), but in 2nd finished Jānis Stepiņš (Jelgava) (19%).

After collection of votes for the referee of the year 2019 were called our Agate Gurecka, who received 32% from all the votes.

In 2019 Agate worked active for assistant in Latvian Tennis Union, Tennis Europe and ITF Juniors organized tournaments in Ādaži, Jūrmala, Liepāja, Rīga and Ventspils. In addition Agate worked as a main referee not only in tournaments in her hometown Liepaja, but in other Latvian cities as well. Two times Agate was line referee in Federation Cup games in Latvia against Slovakia and Germany. She was selected from 100 candidates.

Agate Gurecka had the possibility to take part in referee process in WTA tournaments. In “Mallorca Open” Agate successfully represented LTTA and she was selected to work till the Semifinal games, meanwhile in WTA “Baltic Open” she did work till the Final.

In early 2019 Agate successfully participated in project “young referees” which took place in Stockholm. She did receive high grade from ITF teachers.

We wish to Agate to continue development and to take part in higher level tournaments, but we hope that she won’t forget about tournaments in Liepaja.

Photo: Mārtiņš Vējš