WTA Eastbourne: Catching up with Johanna Konta

On Saturday I got the opportunity to do a one-on-one interview with Johanna Konta on the Eastbourne Centre Court. This was my first ever one-to-one with a player and i’m still freaking about it!

So the story… Jo was advertised to do a pre-tournament press conference on Saturday. I went to the media centre ready for it as I always enjoy listening to Jo in press. They asked around if anyone wanted to speak to Jo. I was the only person who said yes! Before I knew it, I was whisked off to Centre Court where Jo was doing some pre-tournament press. She did TV interviews for BBC and ITV, which was fascinating just to watch from the sidelines.

Another journalist had five minutes to ask questions with Jo. Then it was my opportunity to step onto the Centre Court grass and ask my questions. Gulp. I think because it happened so quickly and because I didn’t really have time to think worry or prepare in great detail that I was able to cope. I still can’t believe this happened. I’m a nervous nelly so I was proud of myself for doing it and taking advantage of the opportunity.

My one goal this week in press was to ask Jo about baking. I have always enjoyed Jo’s updates on social media about baking and as you may know, i’m a keen baker myself. So… of course my first question to Jo was about baking! 😂 I asked Jo whether she’d done any baking recently. It turns out she has been enjoying good old home cooking!

One of the good things about coming home is I get to ask my Mum to cook for me. She has been the busy body in the kitchen for me, which I have been very lucky about!

I stayed on the baking and asked Jo whether she had a signature bake. The answer was no!

I think I am currently still working on expanding my repertoire.

I asked whether there was a favourite bake this year. It seems I would need to talk to her friends and family! Jo expanded on where she gets her ideas for cooking which is just as, if not more, prominent than the baking.

I think you would need to ask more people who have tried my baking as they probably have a favourite. I actually cook more than I bake although I only post really about my baking. I take most of the inspiration and opportunities from the recipes that I find, either in the Waitrose magazine or on BBC Food so i’m not exactly very inventive yet. I follow a recipe and the recipes have been very good so far!

Then I thought it was time to probably ask about the tennis. I had watched Jo been asked about her draw in Eastbourne by other journalists and it was clear she was not aware of what half she was in, let alone who she may be playing. The journalist before had informed her of her potential first opponent. I followed this up and asked how she feels about knowing who her next opponent on the court may be.

I don’t look at it [the draw] because I try to take each match at a time. Having a bye obviously, the match before mine still needs to complete and then I will know who I will be competing against. Then I will go through my general routine with my coach of just coming up with a gameplan and then trying to prepare well for that battle.

I asked Jo about her progress so far during the grass court season. She reached the final in Nottingham where she lost out in a tight three set final against Ash Barty. In Birmingham, she was beaten in straight sets by Petra Kvitova in the first round. Note that Kvitova has gone onto reach the final and looks in absolutely fabulous form. Jo seems very positive going forward.

I think I am playing some great tennis. I’d like to think that especially through Nottingham as I got to play five matches in succession. I felt I became stronger with each match and I think I was able to raise my level. Obviously I played a very tough match against Petra [in Birmingham]. She is in incredible form and really playing some great tennis so it was a tough match for me but I felt I also competed well in that match. I am looking forward to finally getting back on the match court again and really just try and work hard on having a few matches here.

And finally, I asked Jo about the three warm-up tournaments and how the conditions vary between them. Random sidenote – i’d love to have a go at playing on the grass! Jo was very complimentary of the courts and playing at home.

The courts are fairly similar. Obviously the conditions change slightly. Birmingham was a bit heavier conditions wise than Nottingham as I think it’s just a bit more humid there. Here [in Eastbourne] it can be exceptionally windy obviously being beside the seaside. There’s little differences like that but also, saying that it was quite windy in Nottingham and Birmingham this year so you never know! We are very fortunate that all these courts are absolutely world class and they really are a great surface to play on, it’s a really enjoyable one, and it’s home.

I then ended the interview by saying “enjoy the sun” like a complete dork. I thanked Jo and that was it. My first one-to-one interview with a player. I got really lucky as media was very quiet today. I still can’t believe it happened. I’m really thankful for the opportunity and of course thanks to Jo for being so generous with her time and answers. I will cherish the audio on my phone which surprisingly, isn’t too excruciating to listen to. There was one moment when I interrupted Jo but I learnt my lessons and shut up for the rest of her answers!

Jo will play either Aleksandra Krunic or Andrea Sestini Hlavackova in the second round. As this match is not scheduled on Sunday it means that Jo’s first match will be on Tuesday.

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8 thoughts on “WTA Eastbourne: Catching up with Johanna Konta

  1. That’s excellent. I think because you didn’t expect to get the opportunity, it meant you didn’t have time to worry that much. And if you get the chance again – with Jo or anyone – you’ve got some experience to help. Maybe you could promote yourself among other players as the person to say yes to for interviews, promoting yourself as more grassroots than other journalists and not a member of the mainstream press pack, as good as they are.

    I’m not as up on tennis as you and others who comment here, but it strikes me that Konta may have been feeling the pressure of having to achieve, in recent months. I say that because of what she said to the umpire recently, in the argument – about a decision affecting a player’s life. I could be wrong, but it seemed to demonstrate she is feeling the pressure somewhat, understandably.

    At the end I can’t believe she didn’t offer you a Nature Valley cereal bar. She must have had a few left over from her Tesco appearance, where she handed them out.

    Thanks for this post. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, David. You’re completely right. I’m not sure I could have gone through with it if it was something I knew about beforehand!

      I think they are very valid points about Jo. And I too am sad I didn’t get a Nature Valley cereal bar. I’ll take the handshake 🙂

      Like

  2. Excellent taking advantage of an opportunity that presents itself. I always thought you should advertise yourself with “mootennis.com” on the front and back of your shirt.
    I looked for Konta’s interview video on BBC and ITV and found nothing.
    Good question on the possible differences in the quality of the grass courts.

    Like

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