Irish Times names Liggan as Sportswoman of the Month for August
The Irish Times has announced that Kelly Liggan is the winner of the August 2006 Sportswoman of the Month award, see article reprint below:
Liggan gets lift from back-to-back victories
by Mary Hannigan, The Irish Times
Kelly Liggan has become accustomed to experiencing extreme highs and lows in her professional career, but in a three-week period in August, she felt like she had gone through it all.
From the highs of winning back-to-back tournaments in Spain and Portugal to the desperate dissapointment of having to retire injured from her US Open qualifier, when she was leading 4-3 in the opening set, it has been a test of character for the Irish Number one.
And, having had to battle back from several injuries during her career, including a fractured ankle, Liggan is now out of action for a month, just as she was regaining lost ground in the world rankings. Liggan slipped a disc when leading Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska at Flushing Meadows, thus ending her dreams of reaching the main draw.
"It was very tough because coming off winning two tournaments I went there with a lot of confidence", said the 27 year-old. "It was bad luck, I know that, but I have to take the positives from it all, I was playing my best tennis ever and I think I can get back to that. It's just a case of keeping working hard".
Liggan, who was born in Ireland but grew up in Spain, is based in Marbella (hence her admission "my accent is all over the place") and it is to the resort she has returned to recover from her injury. "I'm getting better slowly, I should be back within a month, so that's not too bad, it could have been a lot worse".
Her form in early August, when she won two $25,000 International Tennis Federation hard-court tournaments (the third and fourth ITF titles of her career), is, she says, what is keeping her spirits up, making her all the more eager to return to action. The first of the wins came in Vigo, Spain, when, seeded fourth, she took the title without dropping a set in five rounds.
A week later, in Coimbra, Portugal, where she was the eight seed, she beat top seed Arantxa Parra Santoja 6-0, 6-0 in the quarter-finals, going on to complete her back-to-back victories with a straight-sets win over Romanian Monica Niculescu in the final.
Liggan collected 50 ranking points from the two successes,lifting her to 183 in the world rankings, just two places short of her highest ever placing in September 2003. By Mauresmo and Sharapova standards the ranking might be modest; by Irish standards it's significantly more than creditable.
"August was brilliant, it just felt like all my hard work had paid off, it really was the best tennis I had ever played" she said. "A lot of it, I believe, is down to the fact I changed coaches, my coach is now Spanish, a former pro. I just feel I have a really great connection with the guy, he seems to understand me as a person, and I just feel I have a really great connection with the guy, he seems to understand me as a person, and I just feel way more relaxed when I go out to play."
The month ahead, she insits, won't be about relaxation, rather the effort to recover as quickly as possible and get back to playing. It is, though, a break from the ceaseless travelling which has been part of her life for over a decade. "Now that I'm here (in Marbella) I feel 'my god I'm not going anywhere', which is very strange," she laughs. Get thee to the beach. "I will, I will", she promises.