Get to know Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, Andorra’s teenage trailblazer

On the age of 17, Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva is hitting milestones not only for herself, however her nation.

As a fortunate loser this week on the Hana Financial institution Korea Open, Jimenez Kasintseva has develop into the primary participant from the Pyrenean principality of Andorra, sandwiched between France and Spain with a inhabitants of 77,265, to succeed in a WTA quarterfinal. Exhibiting off a dynamic, athletic recreation centered round a heavy left-handed forehand, she defeated Rebecca Marino, her third profession High 100 win, within the second spherical.

No Andorran had even competed in a WTA primary draw earlier than Jimenez Kasintseva made her debut in Madrid final yr. This follows a stellar junior profession through which she grew to become the 2020 Australian Open ladies’ champion on the age of 14.

Jimenez Kasintseva’s transition to the professionals has already lifted her to World No.180, and she is going to obtain one other vital enhance after her run in Seoul. Get to know what drives the teenage trailblazer right here:

She’s impressed by gamers from different small international locations … and by herself

“I am very, very proud to signify my nation,” Jimenez Kasintseva stated by way of Zoom.

Beginning a tennis profession in Andorra was difficult, she stated. There have been no tennis courts, and he or she needed to relocate to Barcelona to coach.

“I lived with my father in Barcelona whereas my mom was in Andorra with my brother, and that was very laborious for me. However truthfully, it made me stronger.”

The one different ranked participant in Andorra’s historical past on both tour was her personal father, Joan Jimenez Guerra, who reached No.505 on the ATP Tour in 1999 and coached his daughter by her junior years. However Jimenez Kasintseva discovered inspiration in different gamers from non-traditional tennis international locations resembling Tunisia’s World No.2 Ons Jabeur and US Open ladies’ champion Alexandra Eala of the Philippines.

“It is wonderful what Ons and Alex are doing, and I really feel like I am a part of that. I bear in mind seeing Ons on TV enjoying smaller occasions, and now she’s performed two Grand Slam finals in a row. And I do know Alex, and he or she actually deserves all her success.”

Jimenez Guerra is presently paying it ahead to future Andorran generations. He’s within the means of constructing an academy and much-needed courts. Together with her father occupied at dwelling, Jimenez Kasintseva is now working with Eduardo Nicolas, the previous coach of WTA stars resembling Daniela Hantuchova and Shahar Peer.

For now, when Jimenez Kasintseva wants some inspiration, there’s one other participant she typically seems to: her youthful self.

“After I give it some thought, it is unbelievable what I did on the Australian Open,” she says. “I used to be simply 14, such a bit lady, and it was my first Grand Slam. It is wonderful how highly effective my thoughts was and the way sturdy I used to be to truly assume that by preventing and attempting my greatest I might win the title. Truthfully, I am impressed on my own, to assume it would not matter for those who’re younger, it would not matter your rating, you all the time have a possibility for those who struggle for each level.

“My objectives are simply that. I’ve a complete profession in entrance of me and I wish to benefit from the course of, and future will take me on my approach.”

For Jimenez Kasintseva, there’s pleasure in struggling

As Jimenez Kasintseva has risen over the previous yr, she’s displayed a penchant for getting embroiled in epic matches.

She gained the longest match of the 2021 WTA 125 season, defeating Maria Lourdes Carle in 3 hours, 48 minutes, 7-6(10), 5-7, 7-5, within the second spherical of Montevideo. Jimenez Kasintseva saved two match factors alongside the way in which. The same battle unfolded within the second spherical of the Vancouver 125 final month, the place Jimenez Kasintseva saved one match level en path to beating Jodie Burrage 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(7) in 2 hours and 55 minutes.

“I like feeling stress and nerves,” she stated. “I am very aggressive, I all the time have been, and truthfully that is what I like about tennis. It retains me alive, it retains me awake. Truthfully, after I get out of the match I really feel so drained and so nervous, however within the match I am really having fun with it a lot. Properly, it is sort of having fun with and likewise struggling. However on the finish, if you undergo and also you win, that is the very best feeling.”

One among her greatest profession wins got here after an evening within the airport

Final November’s Montevideo 125 was additionally the location of Jimenez Kasintseva’s first High 100 win, a 6-3, 6-4 first-round upset of No.1 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia — who has since rocketed into the High 20. However her preparation for that match had been imperfect, to say the least.

“I used to be in Brazil and I had connection flights from Brazil to Argentina, then Argentina to Uruguay,” she stated. “Properly, we had some issues in Argentina. They did not allow us to go to Uruguay, I do not totally bear in mind why. However they did not allow us to go away the airport both, so we needed to sleep there with the safety guard.

“The subsequent morning, we had a flight and it was all good. We arrived in Uruguay a bit earlier than I needed to play within the evening session. However I used to be really fortunate. They put my health coach on one other flight to Uruguay, and he arrived half-hour earlier than my match. So I might nonetheless do an excellent warm-up! And I believed I would had sufficient stress coming to the event, so I made a decision I needed to be as constructive as I might. That is why I gained.”

Ultimately, the expertise taught Jimenez Kasintseva a precious lesson about perfection.

“Being excellent and being a tennis participant is simply unimaginable,” she stated. “It is such a tricky sport, it is a sport the place you utilize your entire physique, and it is so laborious to have the right strokes every single day. And every single day is a unique day, completely different gamers, completely different circumstances, completely different climate. The one factor you possibly can management is the way you eat, the way you sleep, the way you do your warm-ups, how skilled you might be. That is the one factor a tennis participant ought to concentrate on — not if the forehand is OK, or no matter.”

Off court docket, she loves finding out … however Choco the chihuahua has her coronary heart

In school, languages are Jimenez Kasintseva’s forte. She speaks 5 — Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Russian.

“French and Russian are tougher for me — I studied French at school, and discovered Russian from my mom — however I can get by. I do my greatest to take care of each languages.”

This yr, her curiosity has been piqued by a brand new topic: advertising. Consequently, Jimenez Kasintseva is forming sturdy opinions on how she would market tennis to her era.

“I might attempt to give extra visibility to the brand new gamers coming by,” she stated. “It is necessary to provide visibility to each facet of the game and everybody in it, not simply those on prime or the identical ones. Not simply younger gamers, both — additionally older ones breaking by. On the finish of the day, they deserve an opportunity to be seen. And I believe my era likes to see change, not all the time the identical individuals.”

Learning apart, Jimenez Kasintseva’s favourite factor off-court is her chihuahua, Choco.

“I obtained him on Aug. 3, 2020,” she stated. “It was really very unhappy for me as a result of I had one other canine, his identify was Leo and he was additionally a chihuahua. On that day within the morning he was hit by a automobile. We have been all simply at dwelling being unhappy, so within the afternoon we obtained Choco. To start with it was laborious, as a result of I actually missed Leo, however quickly with Choco it was wonderful — they’re so completely different however you’re keen on them the identical.

“He would not journey to tournaments. He stays with my grandmother or my uncle. The factor is, everybody loves Choco. Everyone needs to take Choco after I’m away. Every time I am going for a visit, they inform me it is OK, I needn’t take him, they will take care of him.”

She is not involved in comparisons with different gamers

In Chennai final week, the draw introduced up an intriguing potential second-round conflict between two 2005-born friends, Jimenez Kasintseva and Linda Fruhvirtova. Regardless of enjoying the identical tournaments at each stage of juniors, the pair had by no means performed one another. They nonetheless have not. Jimenez Kasintseva fell to Rebecca Peterson within the first spherical, who then fell to Fruhvirtova. The Czech teenager went on to win her first WTA title, however Jimenez Kasintseva would not see that as a particular motivation.

“Linda and [younger sister] Brenda are fighters and so they’ve all the time had respect from the opposite gamers for that,” she stated. “They’re actually good and so they actually need to be the place they’re. However I simply wish to take into consideration myself. Linda has performed a terrific achievement, however I am simply going my approach and I do not wish to put any stress on myself. I do know I may do it, however I do not wish to give it some thought.”

Certainly, if there’s one factor Jimenez Kasintseva has discovered in 2022, it is that she would not must rush herself.

“Generally I needed it so dangerous, to be within the High 100 and to be a prime participant, that I get to a event and simply really feel an excessive amount of stress,” she stated. “Then it would not go as I need. However I’ve discovered that everybody has completely different paths in life, and I haven’t got to match myself to others.”

Seoul: Jimenez Kasintseva turns into first Andorran to succeed in WTA QF

2022 Seoul

 

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