October 2009 - Lyudmyla Kichenok
By Nick Fishpool
Out of action since September 6th, 17-year Ukrainian player, Lyudmyla Kichenok, made a return to the Pro Circuit at a $10,000 tournament in Kharkiv in her native Ukraine. This tournament, held in the nation’s second largest city in the northeast of the country, took place on an indoor carpet surface and saw Kichenok make the singles main draw as a Wild Card entrant.
In the opening round, she faced another Wild Card player, fellow Ukrainian, Elizaveta Ianchuk. A 62 64 victory for Kichenok took her into a second round encounter with the No. 2 seed from Russia, Eugeniya Pashkova. The first set went the way of the Russian but Kichenok fought back to level the match to set up a tense final set and it was Kichenok who emerged victorious 36 63 75. In the same round, her twin sister Nadiya also claimed a major scalp as she defeated the No. 1 seed. Lidziya Marozava from Belarus who had reached this round having first come through the qualifying event was then beaten 64 63 and in the semi final she again won in straight sets (64 63 vs Tatiana Kotelnikova of Russia) to reach the final against a very familiar face.
The final of this tournament saw twin sisters Lyudmyla and Nadiya Kichenok face off for both the title and also bragging rights in the Kichenok household. Both could lay claim to being the favourite to claim the title, as Nadiya was the No. 8 seed whilst Lyudmyla was unseeded but going into this match it was Lyudmyla who had won all previous meetings between the two on both the Pro Circuit and Junior Circuit. Prior to this final taking place, the pair had teamed up the previous day to claim the doubles title, the second of their career, where as No. 2 seeds they defeated the top seeds. Now on opposite sides of the net an intriguing final was anticipated by all as doubles partner took on doubles partner and sister took on sister. Both sisters fought hard in the opening set and in the end it required a tiebreak to separate the pair, which went to Nadiya. This was the first set that Nadiya had ever taken off her sister having lost all four previous meetings in straight sets. Having now lost her first ever set against her sister, Lyudmyla was not about to go on to lose her first match against Nadiya and promptly levelled the match with the loss of three games in the second set. In the deciding set of this final, which incidentally was the first Pro Circuit singles final for both players, Lyudmyla stepped up a gear and dropped just two games to secure the title with a 67(2) 63 62 victory.
Lyudmyla then took a week off from competitive play before her next tournament, a $10,000 tournament on indoor hard courts in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. Sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North, Sweden’s largest city was hosting its second women’s ITF Pro Circuit tournament of 2009.
Unseeded, Kichenok was drawn against the No. 6 seed from Great Britain, Amanda Elliott, in the opening round. Kichenok lost the first set but came back to win 36 75 62 and followed this up with a rather comfortable 62 61 win over Russian Alexandra Artamonova. In the quarterfinal she took on Sweden’s Paulina Milosavljevic in what was to be a closely fought match and Kichenok just edged it 75 46 64. The semi final draw gave Kichenok a chance to gain revenge on behalf of her twin sister as she took on No. 1 seed, and conqueror of her sister in the quarterfinal, Emma Laine from Finland. Another tight match ensued for Kichenok and she was forced to come from behind to win through to the final, her second of her career. If she was to win the final, she would have to do it the hard way as following her 36 75 63 semi final win over the No. 1 seeded player, the final saw her up against the No. 2 seed from Russia, Marta Sirotkina. The final was decided in straight sets with Kichenok claiming the title, dropping three games in both sets.
Once again this month, in the doubles event she was named the No. 2 seed with her twin sister Nadiya. Having received a Bye in the first round, the sisters raced through the rounds en-route to claiming a career third title together in their ninth final.
This was a successful month for the 17-year old Ukrainian and one that she will always remember for October saw her make a winning debut in a Pro Circuit singles final and who better to face in that first final than her twin sister, who was also playing in her first final. A second singles title came at the end of the month and she also added to the doubles title won early in September which had ended a run of six doubles finals defeats, stretching back to September 2006, by claiming the doubles title at both tournaments played.
Earlier in the year, Kichenok reached career high WTA rankings of 535 (singles) and 254 (doubles) and will surely surpass both these rankings if she maintains the form displayed this month.
Lyudmila is the featured player of the month for the ITF Circuit. She definitely seems like a player to watch in the future!