Meet Kristina Kucova who grabs big wins before her grand exit at Montreal

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Meet Kristina Kucova who grabs big wins before her grand exit at Montreal

Kristina waved to a packed Montreal crowd at the semifinals after her lost to Madison Keys and there were tears in her eyes; not for sorrow, but joy of the impact she finally made at a WTA event and on the standing ovation audience.

But while the young girls in Slovakia, most likely played rope and girlish games in yards and playgrounds, at age 6, Kristina and her older sister Zuzana, were playing tennis at the school her father Jozef taught tennis.

Zuzana helped her young sister learn the game and she did well on hardcourts, with her style being a fairly good baseliner. Kucova knew her traditional route to the big tennis league was the ITF circuit and in 2007, she turned pro.

Kristina wanted to become knowledgeable at doubles and who else would show her but Zuzana. They partnered and won the doubles title in Egypt as well as Kristina entering a Slovakia's tournament being a duet with Klaudia Bocziva.

Immediately she signed up for a few tournaments and was successful enough to be a runner up at an event in Croatia and the next month a winner at an ITF Challenger in her hometown of Slovakia. She also entered the 2007 US Open Girls' Singles event and won the title defeating Aga's younger sister Urszula Radwanska in the Final.

The next year Kristina entered two ITFs, one in Romania and another in Germany where she was a finalist for the titles, this time on clay. The 2008 US Open she entered again but either she was nervous or prematurely ready to do the Grand Slam only to reach the qualifying 2nd round feeling a bit crushed emotionally but not totally discouraged.

She decided to go back to Slovakia where there was a tournament of which she was in the Finals again. The next year with the 2009 Wimbledon, she only lasted till the 2nd round, so she decided on sharpening her tennis craft by entering more ITF events and had luck and stayed focus enough to be a runner up and winner of close to 8 tournaments, and even being in a Fed Cup Playoff.

Kristina had her mind on being more consistent besides from the ITFs but her desire to do well in WTA events was her primary goal. By 2014, Kristina had her confidence sparked with a few more finalists positions and ITF titles.

She qualified for the Australian Open and Katowice and went to the first rounds of both but her luck and timing weren't good as she lost in the qualifying round of The French Open. ITFs gave her the boost she needed as she won 3 tournaments.

Kristina qualified for the main draw of Montreal's The Rogers Cup and was determined this to be her breakout tournament. she entered with the ranking of 121 while most women opponents were more experienced, but she concentrated on enjoying the moment and played each round with accuracy and precision.

Kucova's 2nd round was with Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro who's ranked number 8, but the ranking meant absolutely nothing to Kristina as her strokes and shots literally stung Carla, causing Kristina to win singlehandedly and move on to round three.

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, a hometown favorite fought Kristina as hard as possible, not wanting to look bad in front of her country people. Kucova wasn't to be denied as she had an answer for all of Bouchard's defensive and offensive slices, spins and strategic blasts.

Kristina tormented and fairly defeated Bouchard despite her ranking of 42 to her 121. It seemed to be 3 times the charm as Kristina's luck and spirit intensified upon her next opponent, Johanna Konta, ranked number 15 by WTA standards, but Britain's number one lady player.

Johanna had not only her status to protect but the want of winning the match. The two dueled it out trading fantastic shot for shot with doubles perfect player Martina Hingis looking on in the stands. The entire audience was at the edge of their seats as Kristina overturned the defiant Konta to win in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Kucova ran up to hug her team, beaming from ear to ear and even giving Hingis cheek to cheek surprising kisses. The last to beat was her next opponent before she would qualify to be in the Finals. Madison Keys had brought her "A" game to the court and her powerful strokes had even been challenging the strength of her hitting partner for a while.

Kristina's mind proved stronger than her physical stamina and the brilliant shots she had executed on her past 3 opponents were barely visible on Madison, for it was Keys who had all the answers to all of Kucova's strokes.

The time was short for Kristina as she was outwardly defeated by a cleverly deceptive Madison. It took only 2 straight sets for Madison to come out victorious, but Kristina drew what she wanted--notice of her strong, consistent strokes and a potential strategy of being dangerous and overpowering.

she also drew a standing ovation from a crowd wonderfully entertained not only from the winner, but the opponent, who loves the game and gave all her heart and spirit to her last match this year in Montreal. Also Read: Murray and Lendl: a winning combination