Maria training at Thanyapura

Maria training at Thanyapura

We had the pleasure of hosting Maria Sharapova and her coaching team to Thanyapura over the last week. She came here directly after her win in China last weekend and to prepare for what she said is the biggest tournament of the year (WTA Finals) for her in Singapore this coming weekend (Oct 17th-26th).

She was extremely happy with the facilities the staff. Everything from the ice baths, the food at DiVine, the smoothies and has fallen in love with our Organic coffee and is arranging for regular shipments to her in the U.S.

Everything looks very positive for a long and lasting relationship with Maria and her team over the years to come.

Maria was gracious enough after one of her tennis training sessions to sit down with us for a quick interview then to hit some balls with our EJSA students and take questions from each of them.

Welcome Maria Sharapova to Phuket.

It’s my second time to Phuket, I actually came here on holiday a few years ago. I had a great holiday with my friends, it’s a little different this time round with training and getting ready for one of the biggest tournaments of the year, but I don’t think there’s a better place to be other than here.

Do you do any other sports?
Yeah it’s funny, I’ve never really been great at other sports I’ve been very lucky to be good at one and kinda stuck with it all my life. I started playing tennis since when I was 4 I do surround myself with a nice team that enjoys watching other sports and enjoys playing football. When I’m in the states I enjoy watching basketball and sometimes going to the actual games too. I like fast paced sports, but it’s great to be in a facility where you see so many different athletes and the respect level is so different to maybe other careers because they really understand the work ethic and the sacrifices and all that.

As a sporting celebrity and travelling all around the world do you have any special or unique requests when you go to different properties?
I’m usually not very picky, I try to be pretty low maintenance. When I’m in hotels sleep is very important for me as recovery is just a big part of being a professional athlete so I try and have my room away say at the end of the corridor, away from elevators. Black out blinds in the room so it’s really dark and I can sleep in. Just those things, not too demanding I hope!

We recently had a request from another tennis celebrity guest who wanted to stay here and have a stripper pole put up in her room.
Yeah that’s not me, that’s not me … (laughter).

What is it you look for in a training base like Thanyapura?
I think it’s always nice, when you go training for a week or just a few days you go to an environment where it’s really a sports facility and you’re surrounded by staff that are professionals in what they do, other athletes doesn’t even have to be tennis but I think just walking through the grounds and seeing people do their thing and working I think that really brings the best out of you and brings a level of commitment and hard work rather than perhaps when you’re in the gym and you’re surrounded by people who are just on the stair master doing a 30 min workout a day it’s a little different from when you see an athlete training for a sprint or a marathon or their special sport. The work ethic is very different and that’s why it’s been so good to stay here.

Our motto is Optimize Your Potential and everyone is here to improve themselves, it’s a bit like an Olympic village I guess …
Yeah it’s true, it’s always nice to enter into the grounds and know that this is where you can set your time and your hours out of the day that you can really commit yourself to do that one particular thing in your career, that’s really important and obviously you need the facility for that, to have everything around you from the start to the stretching to the actual sport you’re doing to the recovery such as hot or cold ice bath all that kinda stuff goes into it so it’s really nice to be surrounded by all of that.

Our executive chairman Chris McCormack is a 2 x Ironman World Champion, he uses mental folders when he’s racing an ironman and has to dig really deep. Do you have any mental folders that you use and resort to?
Yeah I think for every situation it requires a different way of thinking, not one situation is always the same even though you may play the same tournaments the results are always different you always face different opponents and your mindset going into those matches is always very different and you’re not always feeling 100% or feeling your best, you might of come off some loses there are those moments when you need to turn things around and those are the moments when you really prove yourself, more to yourself tan to anything else. Really how far mentally you can go in your mind to get to the next tournament and change the results around. For me it’s always, it’s been different. I might of just read an inspiring book and have those thoughts in my mind, sometimes I surround myself with just my family and just having them around and not even talking about my profession or anything like that it can calm your down and allow me to go out on to the court just feeling free and yourself or whether it’s a coach that speaks for 20 min’s, they always see things from a totally different perspective from the side that you don’t always particularly see when you’re playing so it just kinda depends.

Here at Thanyapura we’re very heavily involved with a charity of our own called Yaowawit School which was built to help the Tsunami Orphans here in Phuket. Do you have a particular charity that you’re involved with?
Yeah Um, I actually been working with the united nations on Chernobyl effected areas in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and my biggest project is an arts scholarship program that we dedicate to dozens of students currently in Belarus at the moment. It’s interesting after their school year I always get a piece of their artwork or piece of art that they’ve created through the year and always a very inspiring message and to see the children and kids that have been effected by Chernobyl in some sort of way so it’s nice to be able to do things like that after travelling around the world, so just keeping it real. We’re so privileged in what we do.

Do you get back to Russia much at all?
I do, the last time I was there was for the winter Olympics which were in my home town of Sochi so it was really special to see. I still have all my grand parents there, even though they come and visit in the states it’s never quite the same as going back. I really enjoy it, it’s always nice to spend just a few days. I’m quite accustomed to the lifestyle in the states but going back always brings such nice memories to me.
What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Yeah, I love sweets (laughter). Since I’ve got here I’ve been eating lots of mango and sticky rice, it’s kinda like my favourite since I came to Thailand many years ago. So every time I come back I always look forward to it and now I’ve got my whole team hooked on it. So that’s been a guilty pleasure so far.

If we could create a Sharapova Signature Smoothie, what would it have in it?
I’ve really been into green juices this year so I’ve been making them with kiwi, cucumber, kale, mint then pineapple or apple to give it a bit of sweetness. That’s pretty much been my go-to juice.