It’s been a busy time for Anna-Lena Groenefeld since the 2018 World TeamTennis season wrapped last summer. The 33-year-old veteran is returning for a second season with the Aviators, her seventh playing World TeamTennis. Our only returning player from last year’s team has hit some big milestones, both personal and professional, between when we last saw her in Aviators red and today.
After reaching the third round of the 2018 US Open with Raquel Atawo, a fellow WTT player with the Philadelphia Freedoms, the pair continued to rack up ranking points with an appearance in the semifinals in Tokyo in September followed by the finals on the hard court in Linz, Austria in October. The new year began with a new partner, the Netherlands’ Demi Schuurs, a pairing that proved to be a strong one when the team reached the finals in February in Doha, Qatar. Groenefeld also earned herself a spot in the quarters of the 2019 Australian Open with mixed doubles partner Robert Farah.
So far this year, her biggest step in the ascension to her current place at World No. 26 in doubles has been taking the championship earlier this month on the Har-Tru in Charleston, South Carolina, when she and partner Alicja Rosolska bested Irina Kromacheva and Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets. “Winning Charleston was, of course, really nice,” the modest Groenefeld says.
But winning isn’t all Groenefeld has been up to. In December, she married former pro tennis player Ingo Herzgerodt, now a tennis coach. “He’s not mine, though,” she adds, laughing. The pair will host a church wedding just as the WTT season is getting underway this summer back in their hometown of Hanover, Germany, but she will be on court at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa for the Aviators’ home opener on July 19.
Despite her nonstop schedule, Groenefeld is already looking forward to teaming up with her fellow Aviators for the 2019 season. “I’m just really excited because it’s so beautiful over there. I knew [La Costa] from the tournament they used to play there years ago, and it’s just so nice,” she says. “I had an amazing time last year so I was really hoping that they would protect me this year. I’m really happy it worked out.”
As our sole Aviators veteran, we wanted to know if Groenefeld felt as if it were her job to be a captain of sorts to her new teammates, but her confidence in each player and Coach John Lloyd means she’ll lean more toward being a friendly guide. She explains that while they are experienced players, she adds, “They are also a lot of rookies playing team tennis, so I can help with getting them in that mindset of what’s going to happen, but overall they’re great players. It’s going to be exciting to get to know some new players.”
Groenefeld has plenty of tennis to play before she joins her new teammates on center court at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. Next stop: Latvia, where she and her venerable German Fed Cup team, which includes current World No. 5 Angelique Kerber, Top 20 player Julia Goerges, and fellow Fed Cup veteran Andrea Petkovic, will take on the Latvian team, featuring 2017 French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko. Then, she’ll head back home to Germany to play in the 2019 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she’ll defend her 2018 title with a different partner. Last year she clinched the championship with Raquel Atawo; she’ll be partnering for the European swing of the WTA tour, including Stuttgart, with Schuurs this year.
We’ll be cheering you on, Anna!