No. 2 seed at the EMPIRE Slovak Open 2019 tournament Vera Lapko (20) is a young and very promising talent from Minsk, Belarus. She was No. 60 in the singles WTA already and in 2016 she became the best junior in the world as No. 1. At that time and even before, Tereza Mihalikova from Slovakia was one of her opponents on the junior tour. They played together in the grandslams doubles finals and they were fighting against each other for Australian Open 2016 singles title.
Vera, are you satisfied with your season so far?
"I am not - I need to defend a lot of points and earn new ones, so I am really focused on every match I play now."
Which tournament was your best in 2019, what do you think?
"I think it was WTA tournament in Lugano. I really love to play there because it was one of my highlights last year, so I think that helped me to win couple of matches this year. (Vera has advanced in the singles quarter-finals this year and to the singles semi-finals last year.)"
Which tournament or grandslam do you like the most and why?
"I really love to play in Australia because it’s a special one - I have won a junior title there and I love the atmosphere, it is very close to my heart. But I also like Wimbledon. The atmosphere is very traditional, everything is so graceful there." (smile)
In the years 2014 & 2015 you were in the two junior doubles finals partnering Tereza Mihalikova from Slovakia, who is a member of EMPIRE Tennis Academy in Trnava. Is she your good friend? :) Why did you play together at Wimbledon and US Open?
"We used to play doubles together and we were friends at that time as well. Can’t say we keep in touch now but sometimes we chat on Instagram DM. Oh, that was by a chance actually. We were sharing the same room at a junior tournament in Germany and we didn’t really know each other well. But during the week we had a lot of fun together and made friends, so I asked her if she would like to play doubles in the US with me. And after that we started to playing together regularly."
Another interesting fact is that you played against Tereza in 2016 and you won that singles title. How do you remember that final and the fact that you "took" second possible title from junior AO from Tereza?
"I wasn’t really thinking about playing against Terka. I wanted to have that title so bad, so I didn’t have any to time to think about it. I think that she was really disappointed but at the same time it was a good result for her - winner of the previous year and finalist of the following one - I think it’s a good achievement."
Are any other players from Slovakia, your friends, other girls maybe?
"I really like Viki Kuzmova. She is one of my favorites on tour. When I see her in the locker room - 1 hour of talking can be spent there :) She is a nice person."
Why did you choose to play in Trnava? How do you feel about the club and the city?
"I feel that I need to play that level of tournaments now and I also have some business to be done in Slovakia. I only know that the club is very nice and you have an accommodation in the same place."
What is your big dream in tennis, what do you want to achieve?
"I don’t really have any big dreams now. I really want to improve my ranking as much as I can."
Who is your coach and how long have you been training with him?
"My coach is Vladimir Kruk. We have been working together for 3,5 years already."
Victoria Azarenka is from Belarus like you. How important is she for tennis in Belarus and is she like a role model or a good example for kids there?
"Of course, she is a big role model for a lot of kids and young players in Belarus as well as the other top professional athletes from Belarus."