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3 - 11 feb. 2024 Cluj-Napoca

Mara Gae: “I’ve seen what high-class tennis is and I’m happy about it!”

At the previous edition of the Transylvania Open tournament, when she had the opportunity to introduce herself to our tennis fans, the young tennis player Mara Gae managed not only to impress with her strong, full shots but above all to provide important evidence that she is in her tennis ascension era.

Now, after playing again in the Cluj qualification matches, Mara spoke about what she learned from her second experience at a WTA250 tournament.

“I find it extraordinary that the organizers managed to put together a new edition in such a short time and, above all, to do it at a level that is perhaps even better than the one from last year’s autumn. This year the tournament has a mental coach, and a mental health department, something completely new for me – there is no such thing at the junior level. It is important to have someone who listens to you, who tries to understand you especially now, when you are taking the step towards WTA, it’s important to know that if you need help there is someone there for you.

I think that the tournament is at an extraordinary level. I heard from a lot of people that the hotel is extraordinary, they managed to put the qualifiers and the main draw players in the same hotel, which didn’t happen in the past years, and that’s a plus because you’re closer to the club. Let alone talking about the cars: having a Porsche that takes you to and from your hotel to the training base is amazing! It’s a fantastic tournament, it deserves its title as the best WTA250 tournament in the world.”

About the very tough, but also special match in the qualifications against Alize Cornet, Mara said:

“I can say that it was an actual honor for me to play with Alize Cornet. Last year, I played at the Roland Garros junior level, and she was the one who introduced us juniors to the competition. The fact that only a few months later I got to play against her seems incredible to me. I never thought I would get to play against her.

I am left with many positive things after this match. It was a good one, considering that we didn’t have matches standing, since I haven’t played for two months. I have to be realistic: I played against a player who was in the top 20 worldwide. I don’t really understand why she was in the qualifications…I am satisfied that I stuck to the plan that I discussed with the coaches, the emotions were, of course, there, but that’s normal. I think that I had the right mentality, that I managed the points better, and that I was much mentally clearer than last year, even though I made a better score then. I wasn’t that agitated now, I was calmer and more aggressive because that’s who I am. I can say that I showed my fangs a bit.

It’s a good way to start the year, it’s not a small thing to have the opportunity to play against a player with Alize’s track record, who had matches and victories with Serena Williams or Simona Halep. I got a taste of what high-class tennis means and I’m happy about it. She was the coolest player I’ve ever played with! It’s an impactful match and a starting point for me. You could see that she was mentally superior and more experienced than me. She is 34 years old, I am 18. You could see that in the important moments when she served with a good serve or an incredible ball placement, but in terms of the speed of play I think that I was there and that the difference was not necessarily the game itself, but the mentality, the tactics, and the clarity. I hope to have the opportunity to chat with her while I’m still at the tournament and to get some feedback from her.”