good article about Petra
Young, pretty and talented - Petra Cetkovska
Saturday, May 31, 2008
By Eric Frosio
The Czech Republic’s newest sensation may have struggled to get where she is, but the 23 year-old seems to have all the necessary cards in her hand to become one of the stars of the circuit, as she prepares to face Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round.
Looking at the WTA rankings, she is still a long way from being one of the top players, but if we are judging by looks alone, the young Czech already holds a place in the top five. Court 2 was swarming with fans yesterday afternoon, all hoping for a glimpse of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty as she sailed to victory over countrywomen Iveta Benesova. And they were not disappointed, although we suspect that a certain number of viewfinders we not focused on the ball alone!
The 23 year-old is currently ranked No77 in the world, but has not yet broken through into the winners’ circle. Her plan is to make a name for herself on the circuit and “be the best I can be: 10th, 20th or 50th, I do not know how far I can go,” she says, in heavily-accented French. “I dream of winning a Grand Slam title, but I want to be careful because I know things can change very quickly in tennis.”
This is not just a throwaway comment for the Czech, who knows better than anyone that a career can be shattered in seconds. When she was fourteen, a friend accidentally pushed her against a wall whilst playing sport. Two years later she was in the operating theatre, having surgery on the swelling caused by this clumsy accident.
“There was some fluid which might have leaked into my brain. It was very dangerous. The operation itself was dangerous too, but I had no choice,” she remembers. She will also never forget a medical diagnosis which threatened to ruin everything for her when she was 17. This time she was told that she had glandular fever. She had just managed to overcome this second obstacle when disaster struck once more – she broke her foot in the junior doubles final of the Australian Open. Jinxed? We hope not.
Vive la France !
“That was a really dark time,” she recalls. Before all her problems started, Cetkovska was one of the best young players in the world (No1 in doubles and No5 in singles in the juniors). “I was very unlucky. I had a lot of doubts at that time because I had to start everything again from scratch, physically, technically and mentally. I told myself that I’d missed the boat and that I’d never be a professional tennis player.” To leave her options open, she finished her schooling in her home town of Protejov before starting a degree in English.
But coming through adversity forges character. Cetkovska is a survivor and showed her mental toughness when she refused to give up on her dream. To give her one last chance, her parents sent her to Yvelines in France to the Mourataglou Tennis Academy where Marcos Baghdathis had been a pupil. At 20 years of age, no one really believed in her any longer. There Cetkovska met Maxime Boyé, a former French tennis hopeful (he was No260 in the world), who had become a coach at the academy.
“She was just so precocious as a junior in all categories that with all the problems she’d had, no one really believed that she could succeed. She was so physically and mentally behind that no one would bet on her. Petra had hardly done any physical training between the ages of 16 and 19.” But Boyé believed in her. He became her coach and their relationship developed into a personal one which was not in keeping with the academy’s policy, so the two lovebirds took their racquets and flew to Sutton in England for a year before returning to join Nicolas Huet’s “Players” at the Country Club at Rueil Malmaison in the Paris suburbs.
Pretty young thing
With her aggressive game and natural talent, Petra Cetkovska clocked up wins on the ITF circuit - seventeen each in both the singles and the doubles. “It was amazing,” says Boyé. “She wanted to reassure herself and get an idea of where she stood before moving on to the main tour and taking on the top players. I think she’s ready. Her showing at Roland Garros proves it. She’s feeling confident and can trouble Ivanovic (her next opponent). She has nothing to lose. In any case, she has huge potential. Her second career is beginning. It’s hard to know how far she’ll go but I believe in her, I believe in her destiny.”
With her looks and her tennis, Cetkovska has what takes to become a future star. “She used to just be seen as a pretty girl. Now, with wins over Bondarenko (No27 in the world), Voskoboeva (No101) and Benesova (No70), she will be seen as a pretty girl who can play tennis,” says her coach. Cetkovska will have the chance to prove him right on Sunday on the centre court at Roland Garros when she faces another of the sport's pretty girls, Ana Ivanovic.