Thursday, August 16, 2007

Valeria Kashina: Hopeful or Hoax?

Clicking around on those zany intertubes today, Racqonteur caught a glimpse of the teeniest little text ad blinking in the corner, encouraging eager investors to "sponsor next Russian tennis star!" Low and behold, the link led to a perplexing greeting card of sorts from one young Valeria Kashina, posing with a mess of gold medals around her neck and generic trophies in each hand. Her clunky site, which cheerily claims that Valeria will become the next breakthrough Russian player, offers little in the way of evidence to support its lofty claims. Seemingly made on a Commodore 64 in a hut in the Ural mountains, Valeria's site lacks even one nod to the larger tennis world, leaving this visitor to wonder if it might be some kind of East Bloc sports scam. It's hard to imagine who would be foolish enough to send "sponsorship" money to this individual of suspect reality, but then again, everybody loves a phenom!

1 comment:

Jimmy in Russia said...

Well, actually I did sponsor Valeria (Lera) for a while, and I made that "Commodore 20" website in a couple of days.

She lives in Togliatti, Russia, near Samara. I became interested because her father had placed an ad in a magazine asking for a sponsor. My Russian was poor but my office manager translated for me and I met Valeria and her parents, and crazy cat, Agassi.

When I sponsored her training (maybe $400/month) she was number 2 in the Samara-Togliatti area (2 million people) in her age group. The only one better was a young lady named Laurentieva, whose father was able to afford $10,000/month training at Nick Bolitteri's camp in Florida, the same camp where Maria Sharopova trained.

Laura is bona-fide tennis player (listed on ITF) now seeking to go to college in US.

I made the website for her and sponsored her because it was fun, and because there was (is) a chance she could become a superstar. I wanted to follow along and maybe write a biography (and sell Valeria t-shirts, etc.) if that happened.

If someone hasn't ever taken a chance, tried something new, done something out of the ordinary (like sponsoring an unknown sports hopeful) then he/she is leading a kind of dull life.