Tuesday October 9, 2012Isabelle Lendl: Eager For Final Year As Gator
By: Andrew Piper, UF Communications
There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition and when you are one of five sisters competing in numerous sports, sibling rivalries are expected. For Gator senior Isabelle Lendl, the norm has always been playing sports and the family rule was to pick a sport and start competing from a young age.
Having a family full of athletes has not only made her more of a competitor, but has also given her an outlet to go to for advice. With Lendl being the daughter of tennis great Ivan Lendl, she has always had what she refers to as a built-in Google.
“He has been able to tell me that I will experience this or this and he already knows mentally that if I am nervous what I should do,” Lendl said. “So it is really nice to have someone to talk to that has had the experience.”
With one of her sisters currently playing golf at the University of Alabama, she has plenty of other outlets to go to whether they want to talk about the sport they have in common or things as simple as school and apartments.
“If I don’t win I want her to win or one of my teammates to win, but we talk about golf because it is part of our life,” she said.
No substitution for competition
When the golf season ends, the focus turns to conditioning and remaining in shape for next season. As opposed to waiting four months until the fall season began, Lendl was able to keep her competitive juices flowing and remain in full-swing like she did during the spring.
“I think that when somebody is always playing fresh it’s a lot easier. For me it is a continuation of the tournaments I’ve been playing so it’s not like I need to shake off any rust,” Lendl said.
From courses in Pinehurst, N.C., Cleveland and others in between, Lendl stayed fresh on the amateur circuit throughout the summer months and kept the rust that is the off-season from building up. After coming off a junior year that included a career-low round of 66, Lendl looks to keep her rhythm moving forward.
“No matter what you do, competition is different than practice and you try to have practice simulate competition as much as possible, but there is no replacement for competing,” Lendl said.
For Lendl, that hunger for competition has already paid off this fall as she claimed the first outright title of her career on September 16 at the Dale McNamara Invitational.
Same face, new title
After Jan Dowling stepped down as head coach of the Gator women’s golf team, there were no concerns in the clubhouse when the new coach was chosen.
In a 10-month span, Emily Bastel went from arriving in Gainesville as an assistant coach, to becoming the woman in charge of the program. Lendl enjoys the comfort level that is there with Bastel already having become accustomed to the University of Florida and the entire staff during her time as an assistant.
“I think it is a really nice comfort level for everybody that there is not a whole new coaching staff coming in. We know what to expect and we are comfortable saying things and come in knowing what kind of coaching we are going to get,” Lendl said.
After finishing 12th as a team at the NCAA Championships last May and tied for 51st as an individual, there is room for improvement, but for Lendl it is still early to start thinking that far ahead.
“I haven’t even thought about the spring at all since it is five months away so that is a long way to think and I’m not much of a planner with that because so many things can change in five months,” Lendl said.
A lot can change through the fall, for better and worse, but after finding early success to begin the season, confidence will continue to build with wins for Lendl and the rest of the Gators.