At the age of seventeen, Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva made achievements not only for herself, but for her country.
As a lucky loser this week at the Hana Bank Korea Open, Jimenez Kasintseva became the first player from the Pyrenees Principality of Andorra, sandwiched between France and Spain of 77,265 people, to reach the WTA quarter-finals. Showcasing a dynamic sports game centered on a heavy forehand with her left hand, she defeated Rebecca Marino, her third career win in the Top 100, in the second round.
Andorra did not even participate in the WTA draw before Jimenez Kasintseva made her debut in Madrid last year. This comes on the heels of an impressive junior career as she became the 2020 Australian Open Girls’ Champion at the age of 14.
Jimenez Kasintseva’s transition to the pro has already lifted her to world number 180, and she’ll receive another big boost after running in Seoul. Find out what drives the pioneering teen here:
It’s inspired by players from other small countries…and on its own
“I am very proud to represent my country,” Jimenez Kasintseva said via Zoom.
She said starting a tennis career in Andorra was complicated. There were no tennis courts, and she had to move to Barcelona for training.
“I lived with my father in Barcelona while my mother was in Andorra with my brother, and that was very difficult for me. But honestly, it made me stronger.”
The only other seeded player in Andorran history on either tour was her father, Juan Jimenez Guerra, who reached No. 505 on the ATP Tour in 1999 and coached his daughter during her early years. But Jimenez Kasintseva has found inspiration in other players from non-traditional tennis nations such as world number two Tunisia Anas Jabeur and US Open Girls’ Champion Alexandra Ayala of the Philippines.
“It’s amazing what the Ons and Alex are doing, and I feel like I’m a part of that. I remember watching the Ons on TV playing smaller events and now have two Grand Slam finals in a row. I know Alex, and she really deserves all of her success.”
Jimenez Guerra is currently paying this for future Andorran generations. He is in the process of building a much-needed academy and courts. With her father working at home, Jimenez Kasintseva now works with Eduardo Nicholas, the former coach of WTA stars like Daniela Hantuchova and Shahar Peer.
Right now, when Jimenez Kasintseva needs some inspiration, there’s another player she often looks to: her younger self.
“When I think about it, what I did at the Australian Open is unbelievable,” she says. “I was only 14 years old, such a young girl, and this was my first Grand Slam. It’s amazing how strong my mind is and how strong I can think that by fighting and doing my best I can win the title. Honestly, I’ve inspired myself. , to think that it doesn’t matter if you’re young, and it doesn’t matter your rank, you always have a chance if you fight for every point.
“My goals are just that. I have an entire career ahead of me and I want to enjoy the process, and fate will take me my way.”
For Jimenez Kasintseva, there is pleasure in suffering
With the rise of Jimenez Kasintseva over the past year, she has shown a fondness to engage in epic matches.
She won the longest match of the 2021 WTA 125 season, defeating Maria Lourdes Carl in 3 hours, 48 minutes, 7-6 (10), 5-7, 7-5, in the second round of Montevideo. Jimenez Kasintseva saved two match points along the way. A similar battle unfolded in the second round of the Vancouver 125 last month, as Jimenez Kasintseva saved one game point en route to a win over Jodi Borg 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7) in 2 hours and 55 minutes.
“I love the feeling of pressure and nerves,” she said. “I’m very competitive, I’ve always been, and frankly that’s what I love about tennis. It keeps me alive, it keeps me awake. Honestly, when I get out of a match I feel really tired and very stressed, but in the match I enjoy it a lot. Well, it’s kind of like Enjoy and suffer too. But in the end, when you suffer and win, that is the best feeling.”
One of her best career victories came after a night at the airport
Montevideo 125 last November was also the site of Jimenez Kasintseva’s Top 100 victory, with No. 1 seed Beatriz Haddad-Maia winning the first round 6-3, 6-4 – who has since climbed into the top 20. Because that match was imperfect, to say the least.
“I was in Brazil and I had connecting flights from Brazil to Argentina and then from Argentina to Uruguay,” she said. “Well, we had some problems in Argentina. They wouldn’t let us go to Uruguay, and I don’t quite remember why. But they wouldn’t let us leave the airport either, so we had to sleep there with the security guard.”
“The next morning we had a flight and everything was fine. We arrived in Uruguay just before I had to play in the evening session. But I was really lucky. They put my fitness trainer on another trip to Uruguay, which I arrived 30 minutes before My match, so I can still do a good warm-up, and I thought I would feel enough pressure before attending the tournament, so I decided to be as positive as possible, which is why I won.”
In the end, the experience taught Jimenez Kasintseva a valuable lesson about perfection.
“Being perfect and being a tennis player is impossible,” she said. “It’s a very hard sport, it’s a sport where you use your whole body, and it’s very hard to have perfect strokes every day. And every day is a different day, different players, different conditions, different weather. The only thing you do is control how you eat, And how you sleep, how you warm up, how professional you are. That’s the only thing a tennis player should focus on – not if the forehand is OK, or something.”
Off the field, she loves to study…but Choco Chihuahua has her heart
At school, languages are the forte of Jimenez Kasintseva. She speaks five – Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Russian.
“French and Russian are more difficult for me – I studied French in school and learned Russian from my mother – but I can manage. I do my best to keep both languages.”
This year, a new topic piqued her interest: marketing. As a result, Jimenez Kasintseva is forming strong opinions about how tennis will market her generation.
“I will try to give more clarity to the new players coming in,” she said. “It is important to highlight every aspect of the sport and everyone involved in it, not just who is at the top or the same sides. Not only the young players, but also the older ones. At the end of the day, they deserve a chance to see them. And I think my generation would love to see change. And it’s not always the same people.”
Putting aside, Jimenez Kasintseva’s favorite off-court thing is his Chihuahua, Choco.
“I got it on August 3, 2020,” she said. “It was very sad for me because I have another dog, his name is Leo and he was also a Chihuahua. That day in the morning he was hit by a car. We were all home feeling sad, so in the afternoon we got Choco. At first it was hard, because I missed Leo really, but soon it was great with Choco – they’re so different but you love them the same.
“He doesn’t travel to tournaments. He stays with my grandmother or uncle. The thing is everyone loves Choco. Everyone wants to take Choco when I’m away. When I go on a trip, they tell me it’s fine, I don’t need to take it, they’ll take care of it.”
She is not interested in making comparisons with other players
In Chennai last week, the draw triggered a potential second-round showdown between two teammates born in 2005, Jimenez Kasintseva and Linda Frohvertova. Despite playing the same tournaments at each junior stage, the pair did not play each other. They still haven’t. Jimenez Kasintseva fell to Rebecca Peterson in the first round, who then fell to Frohvertova. The Czech teen went on to win her first WTA title, but Jimenez Kasintseva does not see this as a specific motive.
“Linda and [younger sister] Brenda said she’s a fighter and they’ve always had respect from other guys for that. “They’re really good and they really deserve to be where they are. But I just want to think of myself. Linda has done an amazing job, but I just went my way and I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I know I can do it too, but I don’t want to think about it.” “.
In fact, if there’s one thing Jimenez Kasintseva learned in 2022, it’s that she doesn’t need to hurry herself.
“Sometimes I wanted to be in the top 100 and be a top player, to attend a tournament and feel a lot of pressure,” she said. “Then things don’t go the way I want them to. But I’ve learned that everyone has different paths in life, and I don’t have to compare myself to others.”