Archive for the 'Michelle Larcher De Brito' Category


De Brito moves training to Paris Academy.

debrito_300Michelle LARCHER DE BRITO joins the Mouratoglou Tennis AcademyA new world talent on the women’s professional tennis tour becomes a part of the Academy: the young Portuguese Michelle Larcher de Brito, 16 years-old and already in the top 100 WTA.

She reached the Top 100 WTA in June 2009, climbing up to the 76th world position, thanks to good performances on the Grand Slams and major tournaments, notably at Roland Garros 2009 where she qualified and reached the 3rd round.

Michelle already has claimed a number of victories over players in the Top 20, such as Jie ZHENG, Flavia PENNETTA and Agnieszka RADWANSKA. At only 16, she is by far the youngest player inside the Top 200 WTA.

Michelle Larcher de Brito will be part of the group of Elite Pros at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, set up with some of the world’s most promising tennis players. She will be trained by her father Antonio Larcher de Brito who has been supervising her since the age of 4. Both will be assisted by a dedicated team which will monitor the physical preparation, provide high calibre sparring and during certain periods additional expert coaching advise.

Michelle will join Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA and Grigor DIMITROV in the “Elite Team” group.


Ladies, save the screaming for the bedroom!

britoA 16-YEAR-OLD Portuguese tennis player tipped as a future great, Michelle Larcher de Brito, emits a wail while hitting shots that seems to last longer than it takes the ball to reach the other side of the net. Sometimes her moans are loud enough to be heard three courts away.

Her decibel level has not yet been officially recorded but she was so noisy during the third round of the French Open last month that her opponent, Ara-vane Rezaï of France, complained to the umpire.

Mohammed el-Jennati, the Moroccan official, issued an unofficial warning. Larcher de Brito continued her shrieking and Rezaï made further complaints, leading to a Grand Slam supervisor attending the court.

No further action was taken and Rezaï eventually won 7-6, 6-2. Larcher de Brito, who has been handed a wild card for Wimbledon, was booed off the court.

Tennis officials are now calling foul on grunting. The problem they face is determining whether a noisy exhalation of air is natural or done on purpose to put off an opponent.

Although officials can already award a point against grunting players if they are deemed to have hindered an opponent, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) is considering whether to make “noise hindrance” part of its code of conduct.

If so, persistent grunters would forfeit points first, then a whole game and ultimately perhaps a whole match.

Sue Barker, the BBC’s main tennis presenter and a former French Open champion, believes the shriekers are damaging the sport.

“I have lost count of the number of people who have written to me saying grunting spoils their enjoyment of a match,” she said. “It’s unattractive; it’s distracting. I would like to see it ultimately done away with. But while they should tighten up the rules, you cannot expect a player to stop immediately.

“Remember when Monica Seles got to her only Wimbledon final, in 1992, and there was a lot of talk about her grunting. She tried to quieten down in the final and then didn’t play her normal game.”

A curious sexual reversal appears to have arisen in players’ expressions of effort. Jimmy Connors, a Grand Slam champion in the 1970s and 1980s, was an early exponent of serve-and-grunt.

In 1988, Ivan Lendl complained about Andre Agassi making too much noise when they played in the US Open. “The noise threw my mental game,” Lendl said. “When Agassi went for a big shot, his grunt was much louder. It threw off my timing.”

More recently, the notable grunters have generally been women. Venus and Serena Williams were closely matched at 85-90 decibels.

Seles was reckoned to hit more than 93 decibels. Maria Sharapova was the outstanding grunt champion, on occasion breaking 100 decibels – well above the level regarded as potentially damaging to hearing. Sharapova says she has been grunting since the age of four and cannot help it.

What distinguishes Larcher de Brito is not only the volume of her wails, but their persistence. “This is the main issue in her case and makes her different from those who have made noise before,” said Bill Babcock, Grand Slam director at the ITF.

“The noise extends into the hitting preparation time of her opponent, and that creates problems. The events at Roland Garros [the location of the French Open] have heightened the issue.”

The young player believes rules penalising such vocalisation of effort would be unduly restrictive. “I don’t think it would be fair if you’re not allowed to shriek or scream or grunt. It’s part of the game,” said Larcher de Brito.

“I’m 16 and I’m still learning. Maybe I can eventually put it under control. I don’t know, but I’ll try. It comes from Seles; it comes from Sharapova. It comes from great players.”

Larcher de Brito has been schooled at the Nick Bollettieri academy in Florida, which produced champions such as Seles, Sharapova and Agassi.

Bollettieri, 77, insists he does not encourage his players to make noise because of the effect it has on the opposition.

“My staff and I have never taught grunting,” he said. “We have always taught the proper way to breathe in and out. Players grunt because it helps them release energy and keep focused. It is something that they do naturally. It isn’t something that is done deliberately to hurt their opponents.”

However, he agrees the time is right to review the legislation governing noise. “There is a need for some sort of regulation,” he said. “Players on both the men’s and women’s tours grunt. Something eventually needs to be done.”

Big noises

How the grunters compare, in decibels

Lion’s roar 110

Maria Sharapova 101

Monica Seles 93.2

Serena Williams 88.9

Lindsay Davenport 88

Venus Williams 85

Victoria Azarenka 83.5

Elena Bovina 81

Anna Kournikova 78.5

Kim Clijsters 75

Elena Dementieva 73


Courtesy  The Times.


Noise abatement on the Grand Slam agenda.

_sharapova_80228Grunting can be annoying to opponents (and fans), and occasionally umpires will tell players to pipe down. But beyond any psychological disadvantage it might cause an opponent, does grunting physically help a player make better or stronger shots?

“Performance and power is a lot of things,” said Michael F. Bergeron, a physiologist and assistant professor at the Medical College of Georgia, “including timing of motor patterns and contraction of muscles.”

If grunting contributes to getting that timing right, Dr. Bergeron said, “maybe there is an advantage.”

Other theories abound: it helps the player concentrate; the sharp exhalation creates a recoil effect, leading to a bigger inhalation and thus more oxygen to the blood; the noise masks the sound of ball hitting racket, making it harder to judge the strength of the shot. But Dr. Bergeron said no one really knows if grunting helps.

The subject has been studied scientifically, though not with tennis players. In the 1990’s, Dennis G. O’Connell, a professor of physical therapy at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Tex., and colleagues researched the effect of what they called “vocal disinhibition” on weight lifters.

Dr. O’Connell said that weight lifters produced about 2 percent more force when they grunted. By statistical measures the effect was judged insignificant. Still, he said, “I don’t think I’d ever tell somebody not to grunt.”

When Martina Navratilova speaks, the tennis world pays attention. Or it should. For when the winner of 18 grand-slam singles titles and an Open era record 167 in all uses one of the most significant platforms in the sport to rail against the din made by play-ers in today’s women’s game, the controversy takes on a whole new dimension.

The receipt of the ITF’s Philippe Chatrier Award – its annual recognition of incomparable service to the game – at its world champions’ dinner was the vehicle for Navratilova to speak directly to the game’s leaders. The two-time French Open champion made critical reference to the assault on the eardrums led here this year by Michelle Larcher De Brito, the 16-year-old Portuguese, Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. She did not name players individually but they know who they are.

“Roger Federer doesn’t make a noise when he hits the ball – go and listen,” Navratilova said yesterday. “The grunting has reached an unacceptable level. It is cheating, pure and simple. It is time for something to be done.”

Among other concerns she believes tennis needs to deal with are constant delays of a game because of incessant bouncing of the ball in the service preparation – “it is just too much,” she said – and the size of the racket heads and improvements in string technology that are ridding the game of its variety.

But it was the racket of a different sort that really perturbed Navratilova, commentating here for The Tennis Channel.

“I remember how it was when Monica [Seles] and I were competitors and she began to grunt,” she said. “I couldn’t hear the ball. I thought to myself, ‘Do I mention it to the umpire, do I say something to her? What should I do?’ And Monica was a friend. I had to say something in the end.

“A player is in a difficult position because if they make too much of a fuss, the crowd can turn against them. It is the umpires who have to act because if they start enforcing the hindrance rule and give point penalties, it will soon stop. The grunts are louder and lasting well into the opponent’s strike zone.”

Navratilova said yesterday that no one in tennis authority had spoken to her after her speech about either its content or its significance, which is a worry, because her views ought to be roundly supported and acted upon without delay.

The grand slam committee is scheduled to meet in Paris today and players’ noise levels are believed to be on their agenda.

The loss of Williams to the competition yesterday – she was beaten 7-6, 5-7, 7-5 by Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia, sacrificing a 3-1 lead in the final set in the process – has reduced the decibel count propitiously.

“Maybe I can do better at Wimbledon,” Williams said. “I wish it was tomorrow.”


Shrieking reaches new heights.

_DeBrito_185x185_565009aAlan Mills, Wimbledon referee from 1982 to 2005, is a man who always believed rules were there for a reason and not to be flouted. Subsequently he saw the increasing trend of female grunters guilty of bringing unnecessary audible pollution to the game he loved while trying to give themselves an unfair advantage over their opponents.

In many ways the term grunt is rather inaccurate. Perhaps the noise emanated by Jimmy Connors could loosely be described in that way but once the females got into the act it became more like a banshee’s wail. First there was Monica Seles racking up the decibels, next Anna Kournikova and then the Williams sisters, while Maria Sharapova made things much louder.

But now the Noise Abatement Society should be aware of Michelle Larcher De Brito, a 16-year-old from Portugal who attacks the eardrums of opponents, officials and spectators with the the kind of shriek that suggests she is having her fingernails torturously ripped out on every single shot. And as if that were not enough, more often than not she celebrates the winning of a point with a shake of the fist directed across the net and a loud yell of “C’monnnnnnnnnnn” that makes Lleyton Hewitt appear positively respectful to his opponent by comparison.

Mills was certain that players from the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida were taught to employ noise into their armoury and it’s no coincidence that Seles, Kournikova, Sharapova and now Marcher del Brito were all schooled at the American coach’s Bradenton headquarters.

For reasons that frustrated Mills immensely, no action could be taken against the noisier players unless the opponent complained. And rare were the occasions when any contestant felt the need to appeal to the chair umpire.

Finally somebody has declared enough is enough, and rightly so. Aravane Rezai is a feisty young Frenchwoman of Iranian antecedence who believed that the shrieking had to stop. It didn’t matter that for the most part she had the upper hand against her noisy young opponent and won through 7-6, 6-2. Rezai viewed the cacophony as unnecessary and implored umpire Muhammad el Jenetti to do something about.

“Please, there is a limit, enough,” an angry Rezai shouted before requesting the presence of Grand Slam supervisor Donna Kelso. And good for her because this kind of thing is completely against the bounds of good sportsmanship. In fact, this issue should have been addressed several years ago.

In the event umpire El Jenetti opted against making any ruling but, if the contest had become tighter, tempers would have risen and it would have been difficult for him not to get involved.

“She really shouts loud,” said Rezai. “Maybe it’s the way she tries to impress the opponent, but it really did upset me because it was really unpleasant. She kept shouting and the umpire did not really do his job. She’s only 16 and has a lot of time to learn more but it was a tactic she was using.”

Who can deny that it’s high time the International Tennis Federation, who monitor the rules of tennis, should consult the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and then address this issue? The louder the shrieking, the uglier the game. Please, young Miss Larcher De Brito, before you get much older learn to turn the volume down a little.

Courtesy  The Times.

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