Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Welcome to the latest instalment of Victoria Mboko’s blog. The 15-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 has 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 in Toronto after flying back from Europe where I contested the Roland Garros Junior Championships. I don’t often get the chance to spend time with my family and it is so lovely catching up with everybody.
That said, pretty much all my free time at the moment is being taken up with studying as this week marks the end of the school year and I have assignments to submit and exams to sit.
Ever since Covid, there has been the option to do high school virtually, which is really helpful as it allows me to combine studying with playing tennis, although at times it is difficult to strike the right balance.
When I am at tournaments, even something as big as a Grand Slam, I juggle competing and schoolwork. Regardless of whether I am on a plane or at a hotel, I am quite often on the computer working when I’m not on court.
It can be tough, and sometimes I have a lot of catching up to do once a particular competition ends, but I make it work. It is simply something which a lot of junior players must contend with, but hopefully the hard work will pay off.
However, I will soon have finished the school year – hopefully this last week goes well – so when I’m heading to events, I will be able to concentrate solely on tennis.
I plan to compete at the J1 event in Roehampton later this month ahead of the Junior Championships at Wimbledon, which start on 2 July, and I cannot wait to feel the Grand Slam environment again.
I am just back from Paris where I played at Roland Garros for the first time, and it was a tournament I loved so much. The crowd was loud, with plenty of people watching the junior matches, and it was great to hear those cheers.
I reached the third round in the girls’ singles before losing to Liv Hovde of the United States. My wins in the opening two rounds – against France’s Alice Soulie and Ranah Akua Stoiber of Great Britain – were both really close and went to three sets.
I wasn’t nervous or anything during those matches, but they were a little closer than I would have hoped, so there are definitely some key learnings to take forward and plenty of things to work on.
Even though I would have liked to have gone further in the tournament, I really enjoyed my Roland Garros debut, and it was another important stage in my development, while the wider experience was fantastic.
One thing which really sticks in my mind was me and other junior players being asked for our autograph, something which doesn’t happen every day. It was so nice to see children’s faces once they had our signatures.
My dad and I also had the opportunity to do a little sightseeing – Paris is beautiful after all – and we made it to the Eiffel Tower. Usually there is no time to do any touristy stuff at events, so this was really cool and a great memory. We also took a lot of photographs.
While I have hurdles to clear – my final week of school being one – the upcoming period will be dominated by the build up to Wimbledon and I am so looking forward to playing there.
It is such an historic tournament with so many great moments over the years, and to think that I will be playing there, following in the footsteps of such incredible players, is unreal and very exciting.
As preparations intensify, I will be playing on grass for the very first time and I will get a real buzz from experiencing a new surface and trying to get to grips with something completely alien.
Quite honestly, I don’t really know what to expect, but from what I hear the ball goes really fast and low, and I will need to employ plenty of slices. I am very excited but it is going to be weird heading into grass-court competitions.
In addition, there are no grass courts here and I am practising on a hard court, so I reckon it will be a steep learning curve once I’m on the green stuff, but I can’t wait for the challenge.
I will very much look forward to updating you on my Wimbledon experience – and indeed my exams – during my next blog. In the meantime, I’d better get back to the books as those exams won’t sit themselves!
As ever, thank you for reading.