Photo: Susan MullaneLouisa Chirico (USA)
She may have only just turned 17, but Louisa Chirico is already showing battling qualities akin to established players on the professional women’s tour.
The Morristown-born American has already scored a win over a former Top 30 player in her fledgling career, overcoming former world No. 25 Jarmila Gajdosova in three sets en route to her first ITF $25,0000 final on the Pro Circuit in Arizona this February, and her determined displays at this summer’s Junior Grand Slams have further underlined her promise.
Chirico finished a semifinalist at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, running into eventual champion Belinda Bencic on both occasions, but her performances at the All England Club – in which she came through three-set encounters in all four of her matches up until the semifinals - underlined the star quality of a youngster whose best junior results have come on clay in the past.
Chirico won her first Grade 1 title on the red dirt this March at the 43rd Banana Bowl in Brazil, scoring six wins on the bounce including an emphatic 61 61 victory over Italy’s Alice Matteucci in the final. Two months later she reached the final at the Astrid Bowl in Charleroi, Belgium, ultimately falling to Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinna in the final before battling her way to her first Grade A semifinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
All this after first making her mark by helping USA defeat Russia to win the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title in Barcelona last September, an experience she describes as invaluable.
“Junior Fed Cup was an amazing experience for me,” said Chirico. “I’ve just played tournaments and had never played anything to represent my country before that, so it was a new experience and really cool. It’s a different feeling when you’re playing for your country and not just yourself.”
ITF Juniors sat down for some quickfire questions with the talented right-hander:
Do you have any nicknames?
Some people call me Lou. There’s not much you can do with Louisa, I guess!
Which websites do you check the most?
Facebook, twitter, youtube, stuff like that!
If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be?
A singer. I love to sing. Rihanna is my favourite singer.
Which karaoke song are you most likely to sing?
Something by Rihanna. I don’t know. There’s too many to choose from!
What’s your biggest achievement in tennis so far?
My biggest achievement is probably winning the Junior Fed Cup. I also made final at the $25k in Arizona and I had a win over a former Top 30 player there.
What do you do away from the court?
I listen to music, hang out with my friends, just normal stuff. I like playing other sports too. I used to play pretty much everything. Soccer and basketball are my two favourites outside of tennis.
Who’s the most famous person in your phone book?
Ooh, I don’t know. Patrick McEnroe?
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
I have a playlist on my Ipod that I always play. I usually just sit and relax by myself after warming up while listening to music, then I go on the court and I’m fresh and ready.
What is your coaching set-up?
I train with the USTA player development in New York but Jay Gooding is my main coach.