Steven Virgona, the senior professional at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, will be challenging Rob Fahey at Queens Club in London on 24, 26 and 28 April in a best of thirteen set match for the world championship of tennis.
1. How did things go at Seacourt against Bryn Sayers in early March? You won pretty comfortably, 7 sets to 2: 6/4 6/2 6/4 6/5 6/4 5/6 6/3 3/6 6/4
[For more on the Final Eliminator, see The Final Eliminator
My preparation and game planning for the match went a long way to building a 4 sets to love lead on the first day. For Bryn to come back from that point was always going to be a big ask.
2. This is a very exciting moment. You have gained a second chance to challenge Rob Fahey for the world championship. What happened in Melbourne two years ago at the 2010 World Championship? (the score was 7 sets to 2: 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-5, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1)? Was it hard playing in your home town? It was your first world championship, and it is rare for a first-time challenger to win the title (Thomas Pettitt, Peter Latham, Jay Gould, Jim Dear, Norty Knox and Rob Fahey are the others in the long, century and a half history of the title—even Pierre Etchebaster lost in his first attempt).
To challenge for the World Championship in 2010 in my home town of Melbourne was very exciting. The experience will serve me well when i challenge again at Queens this month.
3. In Melbourne you surprised Rob by serving the caterpillar. Are you thinking you might use that serve again to nullify Rob’s forcing off the serve? What other tactics are you focusing on?
Queens is a court that is good to serve on. I look forward to using a variety of serves during the match.
4. Fitness. How are your preparations going? You are thirty-three. Rob will turn forty-four two days after the third day of the championship. What parts of your training are you emphasizing?
My preparations for the World Championship are going according to plan. I am on the squash court a lot of the day giving lessons and playing, plus a lot of other training. I don’t think fitness will be an issue.
5. You have had some good wins over Rob in Opens, defeating him in the finals of the 2005, 2007 and 2011 Australian Opens and the 2005 IRTPA Championships. What did you do those days that made you successful?
In these matches, I was able to play at a consistently high level for the entire match. I will need to reproduce that form to win the world championship.
6. Is it hard to play against someone who is your longtime doubles partner, with whom you’ve won many titles including the World Doubles Championship (in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011)?
Once you enter the court you put friendships aside and focus on winning the match.
7. How does the court play at Queens compared with RCOP or Seacourt or Melbourne?
All four of the courts mentioned are unique to each other, and I enjoy playing on all of them.
8. What about your personal life? You got married last summer—how has that affected your tennis?
Getting married to Ashley was one of the best days of my life, and it has certainly helped become the player I am today.
9. What is on your iPod right now—what music are you listening to?
Michael Jackson and some club land dance music.
10. When are you flying over to England to start your on-site preparations? Who are you training with at Queens? Are you billeting with friends?
I have ten days practice at Queens leading up to the event, and I’m training with Adam Phillips and Chris Chapman. Queens Club is generously providing an apartment in the vicinity of the club.