Victoria Mboko lifts the Saskatoon Challenger trophy

Photo : Kimberly Hartwig

Welcome to the latest instalment of Victoria Mboko’s blog. The 16-year-old is progressing along the ITF player pathway and is currently contesting ITF World Tennis Tour Women’s events as well as junior tournaments. She featured for Canada at the 2019 ITF World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov and at the 2021 Junior Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals in Antalya. Vicky has big ambitions for the future and will be writing regular pieces for the ITF, providing insight into her tennis journey. Follow her progress here.

I am currently back home and unable to play tennis after suffering a tendon tear in my knee during the Junior Championships, Wimbledon in July. It is nothing too serious, but I must rest for the next few weeks.

I know what I need to do to be back on court as soon as possible, yet that doesn’t stop me getting antsy from time to time as there are occasions when I wake up and just want to go for a run. Sadly, however, I can’t.

That said, injuries allow me to fully focus and work upon aspects of my game which need improvement and I am currently doing a lot of upper body fitness which I hope will stand me in good stead for the latter stages of the season.

The intention is to be fully fit and raring to go for some ITF World Tennis Tour events towards the end of the year where I will try to make a positive impression. Perhaps I might even build on my success at W25 Saskatoon – more about that later!

Even though I have been struggling with injury since Wimbledon, when I reflect on the last few months, it has been a really productive time for me, both in junior tennis and, as I say, within the professional ranks.

I reached the semi-finals in singles at both Wimbledon and the US Open Junior Championships where I lost to eventual champions Liv Hovde of the United States and Alexandra Eala of the Philippines respectively.

mboko and cross with canada flag
Photo : Martin Sidorjak

At SW19, I also made it to the final of the doubles alongside my great friend Kayla Cross, although we agonisingly lost a match tiebreak 11-9 against Kenya’s Angella Okutoyi and Rose Marie Nijkamp of the Netherlands.

As it was at Wimbledon, it was my first main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows – a site I have never previously been to – so I wasn’t really expecting too much, especially given my injury, but it was another positive result.

Prior to the US Open, however, there was a really exciting and important moment in my career when I lifted silverware for the first time on the ITF World Tennis Tour in Saskatoon.

Again, I didn’t have too many expectations when I started the tournament as it was only shortly after Wimbledon and I wasn’t in the best of shape, it was more a case of doing as much as I could.

I really prioritised the mental side of things while I was there, kept cool and calm, took it match by match and allowed myself time between every point. I found that I automatically played well as a result and when the final came around, I was pretty confident.

I remember not really jumping for joy or anything after winning the tournament, but once it sunk in a little bit I was so happy, and my family were all so proud of me when I saw them. It was big for them as they have sacrificed much for me and my career.

Victoria Mboko hits a backhand.
Photo : Sarah-Jade Champagne

Since Saskatoon, I have contested two professional events, losing to Claire Liu in the first round of qualifying for the Canadian Open and then succumbing to Rebecca Marino in the main draw first round at Granby.

That has been the story of my summer really. While it has been difficult at times due to injury, I have had a lot of exposure to women’s tournaments and matches against more mature opponents.

I have gained so much experience and professional events are completely different to junior competitions where I know everybody. On the ITF World Tennis Tour, I am the new girl which takes some getting used to, although I do feel I am a more mature player as a result.

All I need now is for my knee to recover so I can continue my journey. Hopefully I will be back on court sooner rather than later!