The 22-year-old recent winner of four singles titles on the ITF Pro Circuit, was able to answer some questions for us. Read on to find out more about the player from the Czech Republic.
ITF Pro Circuit : Can you tell us where were you born and maybe describe the area where you grew up?
Katerina Vankova : I was born in the capital city of the Czech Republic, in Prague. I still live there now.
Do any other members of your family play sport?
My father has been playing basketball his whole life. My mom used to play tennis just for fun. I have an older brother, who has been playing tennis, too. He doesn’t play tournaments any more, but works as a tennis coach in a tennis club in Prague together with studying at a university.
So how did you get started in tennis? How old were you? Where did you first play?
Thanks to my brother, who played tennis in a tennis club just across the street. My parents were taking me to the club together with him. I tried it one day (I was about six or seven years old) and could spend hours hitting against a wall.
What can you tell us about your current coach?
I have been working with David Prinosil for four years. He is a former professional tennis player, who was [career high] ranked by ATP at 28 in the year 2001. My previous coach was David Kunst. We worked together for nearly ten years, so he also had a big influence on my tennis growth.
Who were/are your tennis idols?
My tennis idol is Roger Federer. If I had to pick someone from women, it would be Kim Clijsters.
What is your greatest tennis memory either as a player or as a fan?
That is definitely my quarterfinal match [at the] junior French Open. I played against a French player, so our match was scheduled on court No.1. I guess, it was the biggest court I have ever played on. To play before so many fans, who created a great atmosphere, is something that I will never forget. I won this match in three sets.
My greatest tennis memory off the court was being at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, when Andre Agassi was saying goodbye.
Who has been the toughest opponent you have faced on court?
It is definitely myself!
In your opinion, what would you say are the best and worst aspects of being a professional tennis player?
Playing tennis gave me the opportunity to visit many places around the world that I would probably never visit, to get to know interesting people, things, different cultures. The most difficult aspect is the permanent care about everything, especially about physical shape to stay fit and be able to play.
So far in your career, what has been the nicest venue that you played at?
When I don’t count junior Grand Slam tournaments that are specific in many ways, it would be a tennis club in Prague, where I started to play tennis.
What is the best experience that you had on the ITF Pro Circuit?
Recently winning four $10,000 tournaments.
Which player(s) are you friends with?
I don’t have any problems to get along with other players, but I am not sure if I can talk about real friendships…
How has playing on the ITF Pro Circuit helped you as a player?
Every tournament gives me a lot of new on-court as well as off-court experiences.
Would you recommend that top juniors play the ITF Pro Circuit?
Case by case. Regarding myself, I can’t image skipping ITF Pro Circuit on my way up.
What aspect of another player’s game do you most envy?
When I get angry with my serve, I envy every player, who can serve well.
Speaking of other players (past & present), whose attributes would you take to create your own female super player?
Serving : Serena Williams
Return of Serve : I would stick with mine
Positioning : Roger Federer
Speed on court : Rafael Nadal
Concentration : Maria Sharapova
Fighting spirit : Rafael Nadal
If you could only have one Grand Slam title, which would you choose?
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given?
It is hard to choose one. “Don’t think too much on the court” could be the one.
Away from the tennis court do you have any other interests?
I like to do and follow all sports and playing the piano.
Do you have a favourite holiday destination?
I don´t have one specific destination. It would have to be a place, where I could spend my holiday actively.
If you had not become a tennis player what career path would you have liked to have followed?
I study sport management at university in Prague, so I would most probably do something that has something to do with my studies. If I had to stop playing tennis, I would maybe start to study one more field of study – physiotherapy.
Finally, have you set yourself any goals for the remainder of 2012 and into 2013?
Katerina Vankova : You never know, what can happen next day, so I don’t want to set any goals. All I disclose is that I would like to get my bachelor degree next year.
Best of luck with that and thanks for your time.