FAMILY CIRCLE CUP FEATURE INTERVIEW: ANDREA HLAVACKOVA
By Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
Who was that doubles specialist on Family Circle Cup’s Stadium Court who very nearly took down the world #13, Sabine Lisicki, this afternoon?
Answer: She’s not just a brewer’s daughter.
After going through the biographies of the player field at the 2012 Family Circle cup a few weeks ago, I decided that there was one player with whom I really had to speak. As a lawyer, beer lover, alcohol regulator and tennis fan, Andrea Hlavackova was the natural choice for me. She’s in law school and has a deep family brewing heritage. That would be interesting enough if she weren’t also a Grand Slam Doubles Champion.
When I caught up with the 25 year old native of the Czech Republic on Monday, she had just defeated Irina Falconi and was looking forward to playing Sabine Lisicki in the next round.
“I don’t think I ever played (Lisicki), not even when we were younger. I’m very pumped for the match, It’s clay court, so we’re both hard court and grass court players. I have nothing to lose. I was a Lucky Loser.”
Though she is mainly known for her doubles work with ten titles, she made it clear that she’s here to compete in singles as well.
“I won a Grand Slam in doubles (2011 Roland Garros), so I guess that’s why they call me a doubles specialist. I’m top ten in doubles. I guess I am a doubles specialist, but that doesn’t make any difference with singles.”
After the tennis formalities, it was time to talk business. Beer business. I asked her about her family’s legacy with barley, yeast, water and hops.
My family was 80 years in brewing and my great-grandfather was the General Director of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery (in Plzen, CZE), my grandfather was the General Director, my father (Jan) is one of the heads there right now and he’s going to now become an External Advisor because he wants to slowly retire from it. He doesn’t have a follower in the family, so it’s kind of sad. I’m sure its tough on him right now to deal with the change in career, but he was the General Brewer.
Does she know how to make beer?
I’m not sure if I know them in English. I know the water is important, the sugar is important, the green stuff (hops) is important. I’ve been through the brewery, not because of my interests. My boyfriend was in town and his parents, so we went through the brewery, saw the process, saw the history, so I know a little bit about the process.
She’s proud of the ubiquitous beer. “I see it in regular supermarkets!”, she said. In case you don’t know, Pilsner Urquell is one of the most famous beers in the world, and 90% of the beers consumed on the planet are based on its recipe. It’s also been around for about 170 years, and her family can lay claim to almost half of the brewery’s storied history.
How important is beer to her hometown?
Huge. Plzen is a beer city, so if you are entering Plzen, my home city, you see signs ‘Welcome to the Beer City’. The factory is huge. You have to take buses to go around it. I’m really proud of my dad. I’m entering the brewery and I’m like ‘Hlavackova’! They’re like, ‘yeah, park where your Dad’s car is, wherever’!It’s a really proud feeling.
When I won the French Open title last year, they were not talking about me. They were talking about ‘Oh, you’re the daughter of the brewer’. Yeah, finally I made something. She’s the tennis player and the daughter of the brewer, not ‘she’s the daughter of the brewer’. I’m so proud of him and I had a really close relationship with my grandfather before he died so I really got to know the brewery and everything around it through him a lot, and my heart was in it through him a lot.
Hlavackova is working her way through a law degree at Plzen University.
I have two and a half years, five semesters . I had to stop because it was not possible to make it with all the travel. According to the law, I can only have four semesters off. So this winter, I have to get back into studies. I will definitely work on a special exception and get another postponement because I want to keep playing but I don’t want to lose that. If they don’t give it to me, I’ll try to combine it as much as I can.
Should we expect a judicial appointment in her next career?
I definitely want to get a degree. I’m not really planning to be a lawyer. I would like to be a journalist or something, but who knows? A law degree always helps you. It shows somebody that you were able to finish a really tough university.
You would think that her career would speak for itself on her ability to finish a tough assignment after her Grand Slam success. And today, with nothing to lose, she nearly created one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, narrowly defeated by Sabine Lisicki on Stadium Court by a count of 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.