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Pavlina Stoyanova-Nola retires

One of the most successful Bulgarian tennis player and in the same time - the best New Zealand player retires. Pavlina Nola belongs to the "golden" generation of the Bulgarian tennis, together with the Maleevas, Elena Pampulova Wagner, Bacheva and Kriventcheva was among the most successful Bulgarians on the tour.

It was at the 1997 US Open when I first heard about her, for the first time it was a Bulgarian-Bulgarian first round at the Open, Pavlina going through the qualifications was to play vs Maggie Maleeva. Though she lost the matche, it was certainly an important point for the career of Pavlina.

Pavlina Stoyanova-Nola started playing tennis at an early age, was No.1 in the Bulgarian Junior Rankings, was No.1 player in Bulgaria (during the absence of Magdalena Maleeva). The first some years of her professional tennis life were not very successful, won her first tournament at Bourgas(BUL - $10 000 ITF) in 1994. Once she was asked what was the break-point in her career, Pavlina answered: "Everybody thinks that it was qualifying for the first time for the main draw of the US Open'97 (her WTA tour debut), but virtually it was a match for the DTB championships (the German Tennis Ligue), when I defeated Patty Schnyder." And the best years of her career were virtually the last - on her way to the main draw of the US Open'97 she defeated Kremer and Jeyaseelan, next year she defeated Tansugarn in the first round; at the German Open in Berlin'99 defeated Anke Huber, in 2000 the best year of her career, she reached the finals in Palermo and the semis in Shanghai to end the year as a quarterfinalist at Kuala Lumpur (where she stretched Iva Majoli to three sets). She has also career wins over Dechy, Smashnova-Pistolesi, Najedly and others. She was also a constant good doubles player, won the 1998 Palermo together with Elena Pampulova Wagner. Among her successes is the title of the German Team Championships and the New Zealand National title. She was always to support the Bulgarian Fed Cup team, and considers the only regret about her career, that the Bulgarian Tennis Assossiation did not send her to the Olympic Games in Australia'00.

When I first saw Pavlina Nola playing, it was at the German Open 2001. It was a rainy day, all matches were cancelled and occasionally there were some players to be seen training. Then through the nets I saw her training with Russel Simpson (I guess so, because he was her coach by that time). The matches were resumed and Pavlina was to play vs Els Callens. I was the only person to watch the match, I was so excited I kept cheering her and gave a cry, when she won the match 6-4 6-4. I went straight after for an autograph, she was a bit surprised to hear Bulgarian speech, but she was very polite and willingly gave one for me.

On December, 2 1999 she married Grant Nola and from the beginning of the 2001 she played for New Zealand. There, being the highest ranked New Zealand player, became the "Nike" face for the country. The main reason for her retirement was that she was constantly injured, however the departing with the professional tennis was made much easier by unexpected surprise - Pavlina Nola is pregnant and will have baby in May. I wish her all the best to her and her family!