Peer’s break from the spot light coincided with a not-so-bright period in her professional career. Last month, for the first time in a very long time, Peer began losing matches to opponents who ranked lower than herself, and was eliminated in the very early stages of various tournaments.
With fans in Toronto (Photo: Liran Bartal)
Ironically, Peer’s unsuccessful month came only after several ill-timed articles were published regarding an alleged crisis in her tennis-playing abilities.
Peer, who is currently in New York training for the US Open, dismissed the claims, and chalked up last month’s losses to mere coincidences.
“Each week had a different story, each elimination its own reason. The problem is that one thing came after another in the same month, but it could just as easily have happened during different tournaments, with breaks in between and wins in the middle,” she said.
So as far as you’re concerned, this isn’t a crisis in your career.
“There are periods when not everything goes the way you want. At the time, I wasn’t winning enough games and I didn’t have a row of wins like in previous tournaments, but that happens, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t understand why people are picking on my losses this way.”
That’s a good sign. You accustomed the media and your fans to winning. The fact that your losses have prompted such disappointment shows how high expectations are of you.
“It’s good that I’ve gotten people used to having high expectations of me. It makes me happy that people are upset when I lose, it feels good, but I don’t dwell on it. I understand that people back home care about my career, that they want me to succeed, and they support me, but a few losses shouldn’t cause such a fuss.”
Shahar in action (Photo: AFP)
Is your overall feeling about your playing different now than it was six months ago?
“This isn’t an easy time for me. No one knows better than you how much I hate to lose, how hard it is for me to lose. It’s not easy, but it is during these times of all times that I try to see the positive side of things, and the good things I want to take away from these games.”
What do you have to do better?
“I always say that there is room for improvement, even in things one is good at. But I prefer to keep these things to myself and not discuss my weak points with the media.
It’s not a secret that tennis is one of the toughest sports out there. Weekly tournaments all over the world, frequent long-haul flights, and the loneliness experienced by athletes who play in a solitary rather than team sport, are only part of the difficult life tennis players lead.
Have you considered the option of taking a break during this exhausting season?
“Absolutely not, why would I? My schedule has been decided until the end of the season, and I intend on meeting it.”
After a month abroad, Peer began this week training in New York with her star trainer, Jose Higueras.
The US Open is starting soon. How do you feel about that?
“I feel good. I have a week of training until it starts, and just like before any other game, I want to start the first game focused, and play from game to game, without thinking ahead and setting goals.”
Peer at Ben Gurion airport: "I love being back home" (Photo: Yonathan Hourstock)
What would you like to achieve before the year’s end?
“I want to improve and succeed as much as possible. I always want to win and not think too far ahead. I have no goals as far as rankings, if that’s what you were getting at.”
Do you miss Israel?
“Of course. I always miss it. Do the recent losses have anything to do with being abroad for so long? Not at all. I’ve also had wonderful results during long periods abroad, the two are not connected. I always miss it, and I love being back home with my family and friends.”