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Change in coach, attitude has Schett on upswing

NEW HAVEN For Barbara Schett, the numbers will eventually fall into place . Right now, she's in a better place and it's making a world of difference in her tennis game.

 

Schett disposed of qualifier Nathalie Dechy of France, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 Monday to advance to the second round of the singles' main draw at the Pilot Pen tennis tournament . Schett's next opponent at the Connecticut Tennis Center will be either qualifier Asa Carlsson of Sweden or fifth-seeded Justine Henin of Belgium.

After reaching a world ranking in 1999 as high as No. 7 , Schett dropped to 23rd after battling injuries.

Things look better now for the 25-year-old Austrian, who is currently the WTA's 20th-ranked player . A week ago she took 10th-ranked Serena Williams to three sets before falling in the round of 16 at the Roger AT&T Cup in Toronto. Earlier this year she defeated then No. 2 Venus Williams at the French Open. She has made the quarterfinals in five of her last six Grand Slams.

Schett's turnaround in play this season has a lot to do with her attitude. After parting with former coach Thomas Prerovsky, with whom she had an up-and-down relationship, Schett is enjoying new coach Harald Mair, who she first teamed with in early December.

"With a new coach, you have to take your time. But I'm just having fun playing tennis again," Schett said. "My coach is very positive, which is good for me. My old coach ... wasn't so positive. I trust my (new) coach."

Schett knows the change in how she feels about tennis is a definite boost to her game.

"It's very important," she said. "If you have problems, if you don't like yourself, it's hard to play very well."

A year ago Schett battled injuries much of the time, including pulled stomach muscles and a slight knee malady.  She also discovered a problem with a leaky heart valve.

"I'm 25 now, but I can remember when I was 22, I thought it was a joke that everyone was always injured and always in the training room," Schett said. "Now, I'm in the training room all the time. If you play tennis like we do all the time, it's not healthy for your body. You have to take care of it."

Now healthy , Schett admitted she didn't play well early against Dechy Monday, going to a tie-breaker before taking the first set.

"I made a lot of unforced errors," Schett said. "But it was also good to win when I didn't play unbelievably well."

Schett was able to finish off Dechy just before the skies opened up.

"I was getting a little nervous," she said. "I returned a ball and I saw the lightning. I said, 'OK, get your concentration together and close it up now.' I was just getting a little nervous (with the storm coming in)."