Here's a quick translation of an article about Belgian up-and-coming player Kirsten Flipkens
I'm sure the fans will appreciate this
"I will always stay a sensible, Limburg girl"
It was 2 years ago, that we heard of Kisten Flipkens for the very 1st time. Flipkens, a native of Mol (Belgian city), beat Catherine Grotz 6-1 6-2 in the final of the "cadettes" (kadetten). Two months later, she won the National "scholieren" singles titel by beating Davina Lobbinger.
And it was last year that she made her 1st big step on the adults' level: she won the prequalifying matches, the qualifying matches and eventually reached the final of the National Tennis Championships. She lost to Daphne Van de Zande, but this doesn't make her amazing progress any smaller! Those results could easily remind us of the progress Sabine Appelmans & Justine Henin made at that age...
Last Summer, right-hander Flipkens won her 1st ITF-tournament in Pétange (LUX) and 2 weeks later, she won the $10,000 "Flanders Ladies Trophy" challenger of Koksijde. This is quite remarkable, because Kirsten only got a place in the main draw because she got a Wild card. She beat Frenchwoman Capucine Rousseau 6-4 7-6 in the final.
In September, Flipkens reach the QF of the Junior US Open as a qualifier, losing 7-5 2-6 1-6 to top seed Barbora Strycova, the Czech no.1 junior in the world.
In the doubles final, Flipkens and her partner Elke Clijsters, who's also one of her best friends, trashed Americans Robinson/Zawacki 6-1 6-3. This means that they became the 2nd Belgian duo ever to win a doubles slam. Feber/Courtois won RG & Wimbledon in '92 & '93. Feber's pro career was never impressive, but this slam win is definitely a good sign. Justine Henin won RG in 1997 and Kim Clijsters won the doubles titles at the US Open & RG.
Kirsten Flipkens grew up with tennis, thanks to her parents. They didn't push Kirsten into tennis though, they also told her that she'd have to make a lot of sacrifices.
Kirsten Flipkens: "After I'd gone on a tennis camp, I started playing tennis twice a week when I was 6. It was just for fun. When some trainers said I was pretty good, I decided to join the VTV (Flemish Tennis Association). Then came the regional training sessions. Since the 1st year of secondary school, I'm an intern pupil in Wilrijk and I go to school in Mortel. I really like the VTV, because they plan everything very well. I get a lot of good opportunities here, so why would I change?"
Kirsten realizes that she'll have to make some big decisions in the near future. After the US Open, she got a personal trainer (Bernard Dewanne), who will try to make her game better.
Kirsten: "School is still very important, but I'll play some $10,000 and $25,000 challengers to find out how good I really am. But I'll stay a realistic, sensible Limburg girl... I won't put my hopes up too high. The top-100 is nowhere near my goals for next year, but I hope I'll get there some day of course. I will first try to find out how good I am in the juniors tournaments. If I reach the main draws of the junior slams, my season will be good for me.
Even though she likes Agassi, Sampras and especially Roddick, she never had any real idols, except for maybe Graf...
"You know, I just play for myself. I have to work hard and not try to fly too high. In the pro tournaments that I've played so far, I saw that the older players have a much better game, because they are mentally tougher and I know that I'll have to become more focused when I play.
I consider myself as a small, but brave little Belgian. I think it's really cool that little players like Olivier Rochus & Justine Henin also get great results in a game that's dominated by tall power players. We're more fierce than those giants *laughs*"
Flipkens is quite proud of the watch she got from Kim Clijsters during the US Open.
"I see it as a kind of talisman. I've known Kim for a long time now, from the time I started playing tennis. She's a real fiend. I think it's great how, even though she's had such amazingly great results, she's still herself. That's one of the most important things I've learnt from her: modesty."
The next Appelmans?
Steven Martens, former coach of Sabine Appelmans, has worked with Kirsten Flipkens in the past.
Martens: "Kirsten has always been an under-achiever.... She can do a lot better than what's she done up to now. She has great hands, she's very explosive and she can make great shots, but she's also the kind of person who's gets too easily satisfied with a bit less... She has good hands, but she hasn't been consistent in her results.
Kirsten used to be a real play bird (don't really know the word for this in English
). She's become a bit more mature now, thank God. She's more confident, a bit calmer and more serious about everything. She's become more consistent too. Her results used to be like.. 1 great week, the next one mediocre or bad... It was always up and down really... She's becoming better, because she fights a lot more for the points now and she keeps herself a bit more under control."
"The expectations shouldn't be too high though", says Martens.
"It's good for her that she tries to play $10,000 tournaments and the big junior tournaments. The lower ITFs and the Junior slams; that's what we'll do in the near future. The young players really live for all those experiences: Australia, Paris, New York...
Last week she was in Croatia ($10k Makarska, I suppose
). I guess it was a nice tennis club, but the travelling was done by backpack and not by bus! They see it as a challenge, which shows them that they still have a long way to go..."
Martens is sure that she'll never be as good as Kim & Justine: "55 kg and 1,63m is just too small to make it to the very top", he says.
"10 cm taller would've made a big difference, but then again, she now is a really fierce player due to her small package. Kirsten wins the points, not just to pure power. It would be great for her if she could become as good as Sabine Appelmans: Grand Slam player, a good win every now and then, top-50. And she could become a good Fed Cup player too. The top-10 is too high, but never say never. Dominique Van Roost Monami also surprised me when she reached the top-10!"
Article by Frédéric Vanheule, translated by moi