Marta Kostyuk Bouncing Back

Coco Gauff, Caty McNally, Leylah Annie Fernandez look like they are here to stay as regulars on the WTA scene, but in recent years some other young comets have burst on the scene with headline making results – and then just as quickly disappeared.

Kayla Day, Whitney Osuigwe, Sam Crawford, Cici Bellis, and Marta Kostyuk are five WTA players who announced their presences in recent years. Kostyuk most sensationally with her qualies to third round run at the 2018 Australian Open at just 15, beating Peng Shuai and Olivia Rogowska before falling to Elina Svitolina. (She beat Arina Rodionova, Daniela Sequel and Barbora Krejcikova in qualies.)

Now the Ukrainian is still just seventeen and back into the top 150 with some solid results. In Brisbane this year she beat Bernarda Pera and Anna Schmiedlova before bowing to Ludmila Samsonova.

At the AO she lost 1R qualies to Natalia Viklhyantseva. Then in Cairo ITF 100 she lost to Irina Camelia Begu 62 16 57.

The next week in Cairo 60, Kostyuk won the title, without losing a set in five matches.

She is ranked 141 now, close to her career best 116, which was achieved 13 months ago.

Keep an eye out for the big return of Marta Kostyuk.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · March 4, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    Kayla Day is still competing, but ranked low around 300-400. Osuigwe is still in the top 150 and playing the smaller tournaments in the ITF like Midland and Rancho Santa Fe, not quite setting the world on fire. Crawford quit I believe. Bellis has disappeared again.

  • Dan Markowitz · March 5, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Amazing, I saw Crawford play in the Brisbane event I think 2-3 years ago and she looked like a killer, 6-2, aggressive, big shots. She just fell off the face of the earth. What was the name of that American woman from the south who was half-Asian who looked very promising a number of years ago?

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 5, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Crawford looked like a world beater at that stage. I remember Tom Gullikson talking about her as a big prospect about ten years ago. She fizzled out unfortunately. Jamie Hampton is the one you are thinking of. Hip surgery ended her career.

  • Dan Markowitz · March 5, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    Yes Hampton, good mover, nice game. Hard to come back after hip surgery, but Murray is coming back after two hip surgeries in Miami.

    I spent some time with Tom Gully today in Orlando. He was coaching the 2006 National USTA camp my son is in. He started coaching Opelka when Riley was 9. He said Opelka could win a slam, but he’d going to have to improve his return game and stay healthy. He said over four years in his early teens Opelka grew a foot and ever since he’s had a slew of injuries.

    One junior coach said something today I’d never heard before, but sounds right. Tennis, he said, is a game all about time and timing; taking time away from your opponent and hitting varied balls that hinder your opponent’s timing.

  • Harold · March 5, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    After playing Wilander early in the 88 US Open, Mark Woodforde said no two ball bounced the same coming off Wilander’s racquet .. said he never played against anything like that before.. struck me as weird back then..

  • Dan Markowitz · March 6, 2020 at 7:15 am

    I know you’re a big Wilander fan, Harold, but that strikes me as odd because Mats wasn’t the most versatile player in the game. Or at least I don’t remember him to be although I remember he had his big breakthrough when he started using the one-handed slice in his game.

    Great article on McEnroe on the ATP site, Mary Carillo said about the pre-teen Mac that his spacing between the ball and his body and how he came up with new grips and shots as a kid was extraordinary.

    Gully told me yesterday my son has good hands, but like a lot of the kids out here he takes too big of a motion on his volleys. He needs to volley more with his feet, Gully said, who I’m surprised to look up now and see that he’s 68. He looks really good and what’s amazing about these old tennis players, first they’re very approachable and affable and second, he’s still has great hands. I guess that comes with the territory when you reach the Wimbledon doubles finals.

    It’s funny talking to some of the dads here and the coaches. One dad who drives his family of seven around in a giant RV and trains all his five kids, said his 13-year-old is going to be 6-4, but his 12-year-old, who did just reach the finals of the 12’s Winter Nationals, is going to be 6-6. Now I’d like to know how big my son is going to be, his pediatrician said anywhere between 5-10 and 6-1, but I don’t think anyone knows at 12 and 13 how big their kids are going to be.

    Another father was talking about when he tells his son to retire from matches. Apparently, it’s a science because of UTR rankings and some tournaments give points when you pull out of a match after a certain amount of games while others don’t. He said he works his son out for one hour before matches just to get him ready.

    Which comes to the point of over-training. One coach told me his student in the USTA group here with my son this week plays 20 hours a week, 7-days a week. His father apparently is obsessive about tennis and even though this coach only supervises this boy’s practices four days a week, the father has him practice the additional three days.

    Finally, a boy at the IMG Academy takes private lessons two days a week from Pat Harrison, Ryan’s dad. Apparently, Harrison is very hard to get lessons from because when the WTA players are practicing at IMG in Bradenton, Fla., Harrison coaches Danielle Collins, Madison Brengle and Heather Watson. This boy was a football player until 9 and only took up tennis when he was 9, but when his mom told he had to give up football for tennis, because a local coach had said he was a singular talent, the boy cried.

  • Harold · March 6, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Thought it was an odd quote, but that’s what he said. Was at the match, it was in the old Grandstand..Wilander owned the Aussies in that tournament, got Cahill in the semis, made quick work of him, luckily because the Final was close to 5 hours

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 6, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Kostyuk lost 4 and 4 in Lyon this week to Bonventre. So still not back quite yet.

  • Vijay · March 6, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Harold: I’m sure Woodford said what he did because he had no idea where the ball was going next, or with what speed or spin. I wonder how he felt after losing to Sampras in the AO. Mid 1990s, he was thoroughly outclassed, one of Sampras’ most perfect matches. Handful of errors, lots of aces, sheer dominance. Curious what he said after that fiasco.

  • Jon King · March 6, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Whitney Osuigwe has always had the best training her entire life but is fairly limited, nice player but no real weapons.

    Ci Ci Bellis is injured again. Wrists are a real issue once they are compromised.

    Leylah Annie Fernandez will have a solid career, nothing spectacular, but she will be around the top 100-120 for a long time. She is dang annoying to watch though with the constant ball bouncing before her serves and leg kicking every single time she walks 3 feet. Some players mannerisms are just annoying for spectators and hers certainly are.

    Dan…the Universal Tennis Rating has taken over juniors. So much messing around with withdrawals and other nonsense to gain UTR ranking.

    Dads don’t realize that over training rarely works. It always comes back to bite you some day. The young body needs way more recovery time than most tennis dads realize.

    We only work 4 days per week, but with amazing intensity. Today we did a 3 hour fitness session that was off the charts in difficulty. But now its total rest over the weekend. The best results come from super intense workouts, followed by lots of recovery time.

  • Dan Markowitz · March 7, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Most of these players are over-trained rather than under-trained, Jon Glover, who runs the USTA 2006 Junior Development national camps said.

    Yesterday, Callum had the opportunity to work with junior coach, Johnny Parkes, who really had him drilling on hitting his backhand, and finishing with his back left foot swinging around, so he could recover quickly. Then the trick was for Callum to stay low instead of popping up so he could recover and get the next ball which was hit wide to his forehand. Great stuff.

    One of the coaches here, Mark Merklein, the former two-time NCAA singles champ from Univ of Florida, is a super nice guy. But it brought up between Gilad Bloom and me a discussion about whether it’s best to go to college first and turn pro or turn pro at 16.

    Merklein reached a career-high of #160 which is great, but maybe not for a two-time NCAA singles champ. Bloom said:

    “Playing in a future in Turkey while sleeping in a one-star hotel and winning the tournament without a coach is more valuable and much tougher than playing a college match with two coaches and your whole team cheering for you.

    “Because playing others who are trying to be pros is more valuable than playing guys who are there for the scholarship and for the resume when trying to get a job. By going to college you’re giving the Europeans and South Americans who turn pro a four-year head start. I got my ass kicked between ages 16-19, but by age 19 I was a seasoned veteran; today they peak later, but the early years count.

    “The losing makes you tougher and hungrier. The key to success on tour is to be able to adjust to the life style, not just forehand, backhand or serve.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 7, 2020 at 8:52 am

    Fernandez has the will, she is hyper, and she has the game. She has the perfect combination. Nothing will stop her. She hurries around the court like she’s in a rush to greatness. Seles had that same energy and aura. Mark my words. Leylah is going to the top.

  • Hartt · March 7, 2020 at 9:05 am

    Jon, I have to agree that Fernandez’s ball bouncing and leg kicking are annoying habits. But I would be very surprised if her career is just being in the top 100-120 when she is No.117 in the live rankings at 17. I don’t know what her ceiling is, but she is skilled, very motivated, and a tough competitor. She works hard and will continue to improve.

    Svitolina, ranked No.7, won their match 6-4, 7-5, so it sounds like it was reasonably close, certainly not a blowout. That bodes well for the youngster. Leylah has played a lot of tennis in the last couple weeks, going through qualies in Acapulco to the final, and then several rounds in Monterrey. She must be getting tired. She has nothing scheduled for the next weeks, so unless she gets a WC for IW qualies or main draw, will have a break.

  • catherine · March 7, 2020 at 9:24 am

    I think Fernandez will be Top 10, certainly, but I don’t see her dominating the game – I know it’s very early days but I think she’s too small. At 17 she’s not going to grow any taller. And all that running around is going to tire her out.

    I’ve lost count of the young players Scoop has predicted the NBT. Maybe Gauff will stop Leylah.

  • Harold · March 7, 2020 at 9:27 am

    No offense, but I saw the second set of Svitolina match. Beast Mode? She pumped her fist a few times. The point differential was 78-60…Svitolina had two love-40’s on her serve, served her way out of trouble fairly easily.

    She’s 5”3. Anyone expect a 5”3 small framed girl to win Slams in the future. She played 3 weeks in a row, so, I’ll give her a break, she should have a decent career, but no Majors, unless she grows 5 inches and gains 15 lbs.

    Someone needs to tell LF, this isn’t Juniors, the courts are mic’ed, that ball bouncing OCD, has to go. Rather hear grunting, annoying as freaking hell. She goes through 3 different bouncing routines.

    1)Turns her back, starts the ball bouncing, stops

    2)gets to the line, at least 15 bounces, stops

    3) starts again, at least 5 times.

    It’s amazing how many times you can bounce the ball and not get called for a Time violation

  • Hartt · March 7, 2020 at 9:33 am

    I am not keen on Fernandez’s ball bouncing, but Harold exaggerated. Her final sequence is either 3 or 4 bounces. 🙂

    She is ready to serve with from 6 – 9 seconds remaining on the shot clock, so she does all that very quickly.

  • catherine · March 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Fernandez has a WC into Indian Wells so no break for her.

  • Hartt · March 7, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    I just posted the Fernandez WC info on the Arias thread.

    Young Nakashima also received one, plus Jack Sock.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    She bounces the ball with her abolat about 15 times. Wipes her hand. Does leg kicks. Then hand bounces ball 3x before first serve, 4x before second serve. Very hyper but it works for her. Those Leg kicks may fatigue her.

  • catherine · March 7, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Bianca w/draws from Indian Wells – what a surprise.

  • catherine · March 7, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    A short glum tweet from Bianca giving no hint if/when she will ever return.

    Total absolute shambles.

  • catherine · March 7, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Here’s something the WTA could be doing in its spare time – have an inquiry into the number of injuries and w/drawals from big events and how the players are being treated with regard to their well-being and the reputation of the sport.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 7, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Skeptical. Never saw Andreescu limp or show signs of a problematic knee. It all just seemed to come out of nowhere. Like Bartoli’s sudden retirement after she said she was looking forward to summer hard courts and playing New Haven blah blah blah, and then she flew from Paris to Cincy and suddenly called a press conference to retire in Cincy. Why bother to go to Cincy and retire? Why not just stay at home in Paris and announce retirement there? Tennis can be very very fishy sometimes.

  • catherine · March 7, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    Bianca has the miniscus problem, no question, but she’s clearly not getting the right treatment. That’s what I feel angry about.

    She was showing pain and discomfort a lot last year. The knee was obviously weak but she went on playing and it certainly didn’t ‘come out of nowhere’. What on earth would be the point of all this pretence ? Bianca’s been injured a lot in her short life. As Hartt will confirm.

    And she hasn’t retired. Nothing like Bartoli. Bianca gains absolutely nothing from staying home from tournaments.

  • catherine · March 8, 2020 at 1:54 pm

  • Hartt · March 8, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    Somewhere I saw at least parts of it in English. I don’t recall that Petko wrote anything unexpected.

  • Hartt · March 8, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    Here is Petko’s article. There are some problems with the translation. Somehow I think it was Maria’s father, not Petko’s, who was crying!

  • Hartt · March 8, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    I am very critical of the WTA site, so want to give them credit when they have something that I enjoy. This video was done before Kenin was a Grand Slam champion.

  • catherine · March 8, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    To me the most interesting thing is that Petko gets her stuff into good German publications like Spiegel and SDZ so I expect to see more from her when she retires, if she ever does. Her English writing is pretty good too.

    Kenin won in Lyon – she’s a good player but doesn’t really light up the court for me.

  • Hartt · March 8, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    I first saw a reference to Petko’s article on Reddit, and most of the comments were about how well she writes, rather than about Sharapova. It’s true, Petko does write well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 8, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Catherine, who lights up the court for you? Kerber? Halep? Sharapova? Serena? Cilic?

  • catherine · March 8, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Scoop – it all depends. Kerber, Halep and Sharapova aren’t lighting up any courts at the moment, for various reasons. A few of the others glow fitfully from time to time. But I know if I name them they’ll sputter and die.

    After all, I’m one of the ones, along with Andy Murray, who thought Caroline Garcia was the NBT.



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