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Thursday, July 10, 2008

All About Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina may not have become a star in tennis yet, but there is no doubt, the 21-year old Russian has everything what it takes to become a mega star of tennis. Yes, you might be skeptical about my remarks looking at Elena Vesnina’s career record so far. In fact, she has not won any grand slam title yet; nor in WTA tour singles. So far, Elena Vesnina has managed to win three doubles titles in WTA tour. She has some success on IFT circuit with 2 singles and 6 doubles titles. However, what makes me impressed most about Elena Vesnina is not the number of titles she won so far, rather it is her consistency that has triggered a steady progress in her WTA ranking, both in singles and doubles. Elena Vesnina is currently ranked 54th in WTA singles ranking, while she is no. 28 in WTA doubles ranking.

Reaching fourth round of Australian Open 2006 has been her best performance so far in a grand slam tournament. In WTA tour singles event, Elena Vesnina could not yet go beyond semi final round. Her best performance in WTA tour singles came in 2007 when she reached the semi final of two Tier VI events at Forest Hills and Tashkent. She has won eleven times over some of the top 30 ranked players including Marion Bartoli, Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Li Na, Daniela Hantuchova, Katarina Srebotnik, Agnes Szavay, Patty Schnyder, and Anabel Medina Garrigues (twice).

Profile and Facts about

Elena Vesnina

Name

Elena Vesnina

Birth Date

1st August, 1986

Birth Place

Lvov, Ukraine (then USSR)

Residence

Sochi, Russia

Country

Russia

Height

5' 7 3/4" (1.76 m)

Weight

132 lbs. (60 kg)

Color of Eyes

Green

Turned professional

2002

Plays

Right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career Prize Money (as of Wimbledon 2008)

$903,273

WTA Tour singles titles (as of Wimbledon 2008)

No WTA Tour Singles Title Yet

WTA Tour doubles titles (as of Wimbledon 2008)

3 WTA Tour Doubles Titles

Win-Loss Record in Singles (as of Wimbledon 2008)

180-118

Win-Loss Record in Doubles (as of Wimbledon 2008)

119-82

Highest Ranking (Singles)

May 19, 2008

Highest Ranking (Doubles)

May 14, 2007

ITF Women's Circuit singles titles

2

ITF Women's Circuit doubles titles

6

Management

SFX

Media Partner

ITA Thomas Schulze, TA John Seyfert


Family, Childhood and Beginning in Tennis

Born on 1st August 1986 in Lvov, Ukraine (then USSR), Elena Vesnina was brought up in Sochi, Russia. Father Sergej Vesnin along with Boris Konujushko coaches Elena Vesnina and her father accompanies her in different tournaments across the world. Mother Irina, who is a teacher by profession, brought 7-year old Elena Vesnina to tennis and that was the beginning of today’s would-be star. She attended sport school in Sochi where Elena Vesnina was coached by Jurij Vasiljevich, who also coached today’s mega star top ranked Maria Sharapova. Elena Vesnina’s brother Dmitriy is a student and also plays tennis.

Stepping into Professional Tennis

The Russian blonde joined professional circuit in 2002 and on October 2002, she played her first career event on ITF circuit at Giza in Egypt at the age of sixteen years and two months. After winning two qualifying round matches, Vesnina entered into the main draw of the tournament in Egypt, but could not make much of it being lost to wild-card entry Gabriela Velasco Andreu in the first round of the $10,000 tournament. Immediately after the tournament, Elena Vesnina took part in another $10,000 IFT Circuit event in Egypt. The tournament was held at Al-Mansoura, where, for the first time, Elena Vesnina showed some excellent performance reaching the quarter final of the main draw, coming as a qualifier. In the firs round, she defeated Zuzana Cerna, and then in the second round Hana Sromova from Czech Republic was her victim. However, Elena Vesnina withdrew herself from the quarter final against Borka Majstorovic due to some problems. However, this success did not bring any big improvement in her ranking- thus she could not take part any more tournaments in 2002.

A Giant Leap in 2003

Elena Vesnina had an excellent year in 2003 winning two singles and three doubles titles on ITF Circuit, despite making an unsuccessful attempt to debut in WTA tour event.

On February 2003, she managed to qualify for two back to back $10,000 IFT Circuit events in India, one at Chennai and another one at Bangalore. At Chennai, she reached the semi final for the first time on ITF Circuit before losing to Verena Beller in the semi final. Her performance at Bangalore was also impressive as she made it to the quarter final before falling to future star Akgul Amanmuradova. The two successful tournaments caused a huge improvement in her ranking, as she rose to world no. 750 in WTA ranking only to ensure a direct entry to another $10,000 IFT Circuit event at Istanbul where she reached the final before losing to tournament’s top seed Magda Mihalache.

Elena Vesnina won her first title on IFT Circuit at Balashikha, Russia in June. She won the $10,000 tournament in style without dropping any set across the tournament. Next month, she reached the final of another $10,000 event at Bucharest, but failed to win her second title being lost to Antonela Voina in the final. After that, she made her first shot for a $25,000 event at Zhukovsky, Russia. She successfully qualified for the main draw, but could not go beyond semi final where she was defeated by the tournament’s top seed Alyona Bondarenko from Ukraine. Just two weeks later, Elena vesnina made her second attempt to a $25,000 IFT Circuit event at Tbilisi, Georgia and this time she was successful. Coming through the qualifying round to the main draw, the Russian went all the way to clinch her second IFT Singles title defeating Mariya Koryttseva in the final. With all of these back to back successes, Elena Vesnina’s ranking was improving quickly as she rose to world no. 269. She then tried her luck at two WTA tour events; first a Tier I event at Moscow where she was defeated by Michaela Pastikova in the first qualifying round, then Tier IV event at Tashkent, Uzbekistan where Elena Vesnina could only reach to the second round of qualifying before losing to Adriana Barna. She finished the year ranked no. 279 with the win/loss record of 34-10 in 2003, thus becoming a successful year for the Russian tennis player.

Making Debut at WTA Tour Event

The year 2004 is mostly remarkable for Elena Vesnina because of her debut in WTA tour event at Qu├ębec City. However, she did not have a good star in 2004, after being knocked out of the second round of a $25,000 ITF Circuit event at Bergamo. Following the unsuccessful tournament, Elena Vesnina focused on higher level tournament. However, she failed to qualify in a $75,000 IFT circuit event at Ortisei, and then lost to Barbara Schwartz in the first qualifying round of a Tier IV event at Hyderabad, India. She bounced back in a $50,000 IFT event at St Petersburg, where she could reach the quarter final after a defeat to Ivana Lisjak.

After that she participated in some ITF Circuit event, but could not show anything special. In October, Elena Vesnina made another attempt to qualify for a WTA tour main draw at Moscow in a Tier I event. However, she failed once again after losing to Claudine Schaul in the second qualifying round. At last, Elena Vesnina could enter into the main draw of a WTA tour event winning through the qualifying round matches at Quebec City, a Tier III WTA tour event. However, she was eliminated from the first round of the main draw after a defeat by Mariana Diaz-Oliva. She could not win any ITF Circuit event this year and was not as consistent as she was in 2003. However, she won three IFT doubles titles this year. By the end of the year, she was ranked no. 286, not satisfactory considering the year-end ranking of the previous year.

Winning First WTA Tour Title in Doubles in 2005

Performance of Elena Vesnina in 2005 was mixed, neither bad nor that good. However, it is true that she was getting matured as a player and starting playing WTA tour event main draw pretty regularly. She played in the main draw of six WTA tour events including the tournaments at Istanbul (Tier III), Modena (Tier IV), Palermo (Tier IV), Tashkent (Tier IV), Linz (Tier II) and Quebec City (Tier III). Among these tournaments, she could make it to the quarter final of two events; one at Tashkent and another one at Quebec City.

Elena Vesnina made her first shot in a grand slam tournament this year at U.S. Open, but she was knocked out of the second qualifying round losing to Marina Erakovic. Including U.S. Open, Vesnina failed to enter into the main draw of six WTA tour events this year. However, the happiest moment of the year for Vesnina was when she along with fellow Russian Anastassia Rodionova won the doubles title of a Tier III event at Quebec City. By the end of the year, Elena Vesnina was ranked no. 111, a steady progress in ranking. However, most importantly Vesnina was more matured a player on the court.

Year 2006: A Breakthrough Year for Elena Vesnina

This is perhaps the most successful season for Elena Vesnina so far in her career. She took part in all four grand slam tournaments and entered in the top 50 and finished the year no. 44, the best ever finish by Elena Vesnina. The Russian also won over four top 20 players this year including No.11 Schiavone (at Miami), No.19 Pennetta (at Amelia Island), No.16 Groenefeld (at San Diego) and No.20 Li (at Moscow). She was part of Russia’s Fed Cup team 2006-2008.

Elena Vesnina made it to the top 100 on 16 January 2006, before the start of Australian Open 2006, first grand slam tournament for Vesnina. She was impressive in the tournament reaching the fourth round before losing to fellow Russian Nadia Petrova. Following her performance in Australian Open, she progressed to no. 73 in ranking. However, she could not replicate her Australian Open success in French Open 2006 as she got out from the first round after defeat to Shuai Peng. She could reach second round of Wimbledon 2006 before losing to fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze. However, after the tournament she made it to the top 50 of WTA ranking on July 24. Her performance in U.S. Open 2006 was not anything special as she experienced another first round exit after a defeat to Mary Pierce. She also reached two WTA tour doubles finals; one at Bangalore along with Rodionova and Beijing along with Chakvetadze.

More Consistent in 2007

The year 2007 did not bring anything special for Elena Vesnina. However, the Russian was much more consistent than ever in WTA tour tournaments and clinched her second tour doubles title in a Tier IV tournament at Hobart along with Elena Likhovtseva. Vesnina / Likhovtseva pair outclassed top seed Medina Garrigiues / Ruano Pascual pair in the final.

She also reached the final of two WTA tour singles at Forest Hills and Tashkent, best ever result by Elena Vesnina in WTA tour singles tournament. Elena Vesnina defeated Severine Beltrame and fourth seed Aiko Nakamura in the first round and quarter final respectively before losing to top seed Virginie Razzano in the semi final of the Tier IV tournament at Forest Hills in August. Two months later, she again made it to the semi final of another Tier IV tour singles tournament at Tashkent. Going into the tournament as fourth seed, Vesnina defeated Alberta Brianti, Tatiana Poutchek and fifth seed Raluca Ioana Olaru in the first round, second round and quarter final respectively to face Viktoria Azarenka in the semi final, but this time she failed to continue her winning run. Besides, Elena Vesnina also reached the quarter final of two WTA tour singles tournament; one at Gold Coast losing to Tathiana Garbin, another one at Strasbourg losing to fifth seed Marion Bartoli and the last one at Cincinnati where she had to retire during the third set of the quarter final match against the eventual champion Anna Chakvetadze with right shoulder injury.

Elena Vesnina recorded her best ever Wimbledon success reaching the third round of Wimbledon 2007 defeating 30th seed Olga Poutchkova and Emilie Loit in the first and second round respectively en route to the third round where she was defeated by top seed Justine Henin. Earlier, she defeated 25th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues in the first round of Australian Open, but lost to Maria Elena Camerin in the second round. At Roland Garros, Elena Vesnina could not go beyond first round losing to top seed Justine Henin. U.S. Open was the repetition of French Open as she lost her first round match against Jelena Kostanic.

Besides WTA tour matches, Elena Vesnina also participated in Russia’s Fed Cup campaign and was one the proud member of Russia’s Fed Cup winning team. Defeating Mara Santangelo in the singles match, Elena Vesnina scored a point for Russia in their 4-0 victory over Italy in the final of Fed Cup. Elena Vesnina finished the year no. 54 in WTA ranking.

Winning Biggest WTA Tour Titles in Doubles

The year 2008 has, so far, been pretty much successful for Elena Vesnina. She achieved her highest ever rank both in singles and doubles. Moreover, the Russian clinched her third tour doubles title at Indian Wells this year. While her two previous doubles title had come in Tier III and Tier IV tournaments, Vesnina’s third title came through the Tier I tournament at Indian Wells where she along with fellow Russian Dinara Safina defeated third seed Z Yan / J Zheng in the final. On May 14, 2007, Elena Vesnina experienced her best doubles ranking no. 22, just five days before she achieved her highest career singles ranking no. 40 during the Tier I event at Rome.

Elena Vesnina did not have a good start in 2008 being knocking out at the first round of year’s first tour singles tournament at Gold Coast. However, she bounced back in style reached the quarter final of next tour event at Hobart where she lost to second seed Vera Zvonareva. In Australian Open, she lost to fifth seed Maria Sharapova in the third round. After that she failed to impress at Doha and Dubai, and reached the second round at Indian Wells before losing to sixth seed Marion Bartoli. However, Elena Vesnina could manage to reach the fourth round at Miami, but failed to progress after a fourth round defeat to top seed Justine Henin, while at Amelia Island, Alize Cornet stopped Vesnina in the third round. At Roland Garros, she continued her unimpressive performance losing to Sabine Lisicki in the first round. This was her third consecutive first round exit at French Open. In recently concluded Wimbledon, Elena Vesnina progressed to the second round where she was defeated by Evgeniya Rodina.

Playing Style

Elena Vesnina is an excellent baseline player who could not yet flourish every bit of her potential on the court. However, the Russian starlet has already shown some of her skill in different tournaments and it is pretty much apparent that she has everything to be a future star of tennis. The right-handed player also plays very well at net and she is capable of pulling off points by placing the ball in such a way that makes her opponents out of position. Ball placement and excellent strategy are part of Elena Vesnina’s strength. Two handed backhand is another strong side of Elena Vesnina.

The only weakness that Elena Vesnina has in her game is nothing but her serve. She makes double-fault very often during her matches, only making her tougher in those matches. In fact, she makes double faults once or twice in every match on an average. She is still young and it should not be a problem for Elena Vesnina to make her serves flawless in what it could be a huge boost up in her career.

If you want to have a look at some of her on-court pictures, then click here.

Elena Vesnina in WTA Tour Event

As I earlier mentioned that Elena Vesnina could not win any singles title in WTA tour yet. However, the Russian starlet has managed to win three doubles titles so far in her short career. Vesnina clinched her first doubles title in a Tier III WTA event at Quebec City, Canada in 2005. Partnering with fellow Russian Anastassia Rodionova, Vesnina defeated Liga Dekmeijere / Ashley Harkleroad (4) pair in a three set final. Her second success in doubles event of WTA tour came two yefars later in 2007, when Elena Vesnina partnered with compatriot Elena Likhovtseva defeated favorite Medina Garrigiues / Ruano Pascual (1) pair in the final of a Tier VI WTA tour event in Hobart, Australia.

Vesnina’s third WTA tour doubles title came in a Tier I event at Indian Wells, U.S.A in 2008. This time her partner was top ranked Russian Dinara Safina and the pair outclassed Z Yan / J Zheng (3) pair in a three-set exciting final. Here, I am giving some details about Elena Vesnina’s three doubles title in WTA tour until Wimbledon 2008 tournament:

Tier III, Quebec City, Canada 2005

(Elena Vesnina / Anastassia Rodionova)

Stage/

Round

Opponents (Seeding)

Win /

Defeat

Score

First

Kloesel / Schruff (3)

Win

6-4, 6-4

Quarter Final

Arvidsson / Serra Zanetti

Win

Walk-over

Semi Final

Kostanic / Pastikova (2)

Win

3-6, 6-0, 6-3

Final

Liga Dekmeijere / Ashley Harkleroad (4)

Win

6-7, 6-4, 6-2

Tier IV, Hobart, Australia 2007

(Elena Vesnina / Elena Likhovtseva, seeded no. 4)

Stage/

Round

Opponents (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Foretz / Muller

Win

6-2, 7-5

Quarter

Final

Morigami / Uhlirova

Win

3-6, 6-3, 6-4

Semi Final

Camerin / Dulko (2)

Win

6-1, 6-3

Final

Medina Garrigiues / Ruano Pascual (1)

Win

2-6, 6-1, 6-2

Tier I, Indian Wells, U.S.A 2008

(Elena Vesnina / Dinara Safina)

Stage/

Round

Opponents (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

S Peng / T Sun

Win

4-6, 6-1

Second

Daniilidou / Woehr

Win

6-2, 6-3

Quarter Final

A Bondarenko / K Bondarenko (4)

Win

3-6, 7-5, 10-7

Semi Final

Hantuchova / Sugiyama (8)

Win

6-3, 6-4

Final

Z Yan / J Zheng (3)

Win

6-1, 1-6, 10-8

Elena Vesnina in Grand Slam Tournament

Elena Vesnina has not won any grand slam tournament yet, neither in singles, nor in doubles. The 21-year old Rusisan emerging star, however, already proved her mettle in some of the grand slam tournaments she participated so far. She started playing in 2002, but her grand slam debut came a few years later in 2004 Australian Open. To everybody’s surprise, Elena Vesnina reached the fourth round of her first grand slam tournament before losing to fellow Russian Nadia Petrova in the fourth round. In fact, that has remained her best ever performance in a grand slam tournament until today.

Elena Vesnina’s performance in French Open and U.S. Open is disappointing as she could not yet go beyond the first round in three French Open and two U.S. Open appearances. In Wimbledon 2007, she could reach the third round, which has been her highest success in Wimbledon so far. Elena defeated 30th seed Olga Poutchkova in the first round before falling to the then world no. 1 Justine Henin in the third round of Wimbledon 2007. Elena Vesnina played third round of another grand slam tournament in Australian Open 2008, defeating no. 32 ranked Julia Vakulenko in the first round and Jill Craybas in the second round, but lost to eventual champion Maria Sharapova in the third round. Here, I am giving a list showing Elena Vesnina’s performance in grand slam arena until Wimbledon 2008:

Wimbledon 2008

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Nuria Llagostera Vives

Win

6-7(6), 6-4, 6-4

Second

Evgeniya Rodina

Defeat

6-1, 7-6(0)

French Open 2008

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Sabine Lisicki

Defeat

3-6, 6-4, 6-0

Australian Open 2008

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Julia Vakulenko

(32)

Win

6-4, 1-6, 6-4

Second

Jill Craybas

Win

6-2, 6-4

Third

Maria Sharapova

(5)

Defeat

6-3, 6-0

U.S. Open 2007

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Jelena Kostanic

Defeat

6-4, 6-2

Wimbledon 2007

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Olga Poutchkova

(30)

Win

6-1, 6-3

Second

Emilie Loit

Win

6-1, 6-2

Third

Justine Henin (1)

Defeat

6-1, 6-3

French Open 2007

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Justine Henin (1)

Defeat

6-4, 6-3

Australian Open 2007

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Anabel Medina Garrigues (25)

Win

6-7(7), 6-1, 6-1

Second

Maria Elena Camerin

Defeat

4-6, 6-3, 8-6

U.S. Open 2006

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Mary Pierce (13)

Defeat

7-5, 6-1

Wimbledon 2006

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Maria Sanchez Lorenzo

Win

2-6, 6-4, 6-3

Second

Anna Chakvetadze

(30)

Defeat

6-4, 3-6, 6-3

French Open 2006

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Shuai Peng

Defeat

6-2, 6-2

Australian Open 2006

Stage/

Round

Opponent (Seeding)

Win/

Defeat

Score

First

Ting Li (sr)-Q

Win

6-2, 6-3

Second

Julia Schruff

Win

6-0, 7-5

Third

Olga Savchuk-Q

Win

5-7, 6-2, 6-4

Fourth

Nadia Petrova (6)

Defeat

6-3, 6-1

Elena Vesnina in Fed Cup

Elena Vesnina has been part of Russian team in Fed Cup for the last two years. Though her overall performance in Fed Cup is not satisfactory at all, she was part of Russia’s Fed Cup champion team in 2007 and scored a point for Russia in their 4-0 victory over Italy in the final. She defeated Italian Mara Santangelo in the singles match in final. So far, Elena Vesnina played two singles matches in Fed Cup, winning one and losing the other. In doubles, she won four and lost in three matches until the World Group 2008 semi final match against U.S.A. Here, I am providing an overall view of Elena Vesnina’s performance in Fed Cup:

World Group 2008 Semifinal

Russia (3) – (2) U.S.A

26 April - 27 April 2008

Competing Players

Win/

Defeat

Score

Elena Vesnina vs Ahsha Rolle

Defeat

3-6, 4-6

Svetlana Kuznetsova / Elena Vesnina vs

Liezel Huber / Vania King

Defeat

6(3)-7, 4-6

World Group 2008 Quarter Final

Russia (4) – (1) Israel

02 February - 03 February 2008

Competing Players

Win/

Defeat

Score

Dinara Safina / Elena Vesnina vs Tzipi Obziler / Shahar Peer

Win

6-0, 1-6, 6-4

World Group 2007 Final

Russia (4) – (0) Italy

15 September - 16 September 2007

Competing Players

Win/

Defeat

Score

Elena Vesnina vs Mara Santangelo

Win

6-2, 6-4

World Group 2007 Semifinal

Russia (3) – (2) U.S.A

14 July - 15 July 2007

Competing Players

Win/

Defeat

Score

Nadia Petrova / Elena Vesnina vs Venus Williams / Lisa Raymond

Win

7-5, 7-6(1)

World Group 2007 Quarter Final

Russia (5) – (0) Spain

21 April - 22 April 2007

Competing Players

Win/

Defeat

Score

Nadia Petrova / Elena Vesnina vs Lourdes Dominguez-Lino / Laura Pous-Tio

Win

6-1, 4-6, 6-2

World Group, Play-offs 2006

Russia (3) – (2) Croatia

15 July - 16 July 2006

Competing Players

Win/

Defeat

Score

Anna Chakvetadze / Elena Vesnina

Defeat

6-3, 6(3)-7, 2-6

Personal Interests and Favorites

So far, I wrote about Elena Vesnina’s career and her on-court performance. Now, let me tell you about personal interests and favorites of Vesnina here:

  • Elena Vesnina is a fan of tennis player Martina Hingis.

  • Favorite surface in tennis is Hard court and favorite tournaments are Roland Garros (French Open) and Kremlin Cup.

  • Other than tennis, she also likes soccer, basketball, ice hockey.

  • Red, While and Blue are her favorite colors. All these three colors are found in Russia’s tri-color flag. I am not sure whether this is the reason Elena Vesnina loves the three colors.

  • Paris, Rome and hometown Sochi are her favorite cities.

  • Listening music, reading, going to movies, going out to sea with friends, swimming and dancing are her favorite pastime and hobbies.

  • In music, she likes pop, rap, R&B, dance and house. Her favorite artists are James Blunt and Elton John.

  • Elena Vesnina’s favorite actors are Brad Pitt, Collin Farell, Al Pacino and Will Smith, while Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston and Sharlize Theron are among the favorite actresses.

  • Favorite movies are Troya, Kill Bill and How to lose a guy in 10 days.

  • Lion is her favorite animal.

  • Among flowers her favorite is rose.

  • Mercedes and Audi A8 are her favorite cars.

  • Sushi and chocolate are her favorite foods. Cherry juice is favorite drink.

To be honest, Elena Vesnina has not shown her best yet in her short career and I believe, she has a long successful career ahead of her. Her overall career record may mislead you to consider Elena Vessina as an ordinary player. Yes, her career record is not something special, but what I see special in her is talent, skill and self-confidence. Elena Vesnina is still 21 and it is very possible for her to make a successful career in tennis. I will, for sure, not be surprised to see Elena Vesnina entering into top ten within next one or two years, because she has each and every bit of potential needed to become a star in tennis.

Related articles:

Wikipedia

Elena Vesnina’s Official Website

wta96.com

sonyericssonwtatour

IFT Tennis

sportsline.com

eurosport

Elena Vesnina Fan Page

Fed Cup Official Website

sports.yahoo

tennis.com

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