Learning the Ins and Outs of Tennis with… Julia Goerges

When you see 2018 Volvo Car Open runner-up Julia Goerges stride back onto the green clay of Daniel Island this year, shout with all your might: “Auf geht’s Jule!”

Phonetically that’s “OFF-GETS, JULE!” and it translates to Goerges’ native German as, “Here we go, Julia!” but instead using her nickname, Jule. Can you imagine being oceans away from home and hearing a Southern accent try some German? Certainly that would put a smile on your face.

MORE: Coach Raemon Sluiter on How Best to Play on Clay | PREVIEW: 5 Former Champs in Singles

This week, Goerges – who, at 30, is one of the kindest players on tour – returns to Charleston with hopes of hearing plenty of cheering. She sat down with us before the tournament began to give us insight into the sport we all know and love from a player’s point of view, including the biggest pressure points they face – and the three things she tells herself before walking out on court.

Volvo Car Open (VCO): OK Julia, a fan is coming to watch tennis for the first time. What’s the most important thing for him/her to know?
Julia Goerges: Tennis is an exciting sport with lots of action happening the whole time. Technique, tactics, physics and psychological aspects make the game so interesting. My advice: Choose your favorite player and support her – as loud as you can!

VCO: Green clay is unusual. Describe how it plays.
Julia: Coming from hard court tennis, you have to adjust your running, sliding and stopping to hit the ball. You also have to be aware that there can be unusual bounces of the tennis ball, so be ready for small adjustments all the time.

VCO: As a player, what’s the biggest point of pressure you face? How do you fight through that?
Julia: Actually, that would be my own expectations for myself. I only can try to give the best I can every single day.

VCO: Tennis scoring can be complicated. Give me three things to watch out for when trying to follow a match…

Julia: You’re right… But, it all starts with a serve, so service holds are very important. Then, watch for when a player has a break point opportunity on return and what her game plan is then: What sort of shots does she hit? Overall, every single point counts, so it’s important to give full effort always. [Editor’s note: A “hold” is when a player wins their own service game; a “break” is when the returner wins their opponent’s service game.]

VCO: Tell us about the most difficult shot to hit. And why is that?
Julia: That would be the backhand over-the-shoulder smash. You need the right technique and power for that shot. And usually your body is positioned weird, so you need good court-awareness.

VCO: When do you want the crowd most involved in a match?

Julia: Oh, this takes me back to the earlier question! It’s when I’m about to break my opponent or when I’m about to turn a match around. That’s when momentum can swing.

VCO: Say you’re about to walk out onto Billie Jean King Court to play. What are three basics you remind yourself of?
Julia: Enjoy, play with passion and play to win.

VCO: What’s special about the community that forms around a tennis tournament and the way the fans support all the players who come to play in front of them?
Julia: The whole atmosphere during the tournament week in Charleston is great. Everybody is close enough to feel the family atmosphere and together with the fans we are celebrating a great tennis event. There is no place like this one.