Allie Kiick: “I’m a daredevil!”

  Kiick Brescia

by Michele Galoppini in collaboration with Giulio Gasparin

All-round interview from Brescia with Allie Kiick, born in 1995. After the tough loss against Vitalia Diatchenko in first round after a 3 sets battle, Allie doesn’t lose her smile and her willingness, and she had with me this long talk about her last tournaments, her past, her future and her peculiarities. She comes from Florida, she is still a teenager, but she already reached the 136th position in rankings before some physical problems. She won 4 ITF tournaments and she is ready to come back stronger, knowing her big potential. She loves Italy and she will try to find some time to travel a bit around here. She already gladly accepted few advices about Brescia and its beauties, starting from the Castle where the ITF has been played.

Today’s match did not go quite as expected, what do you think about it?

She is a really tough player and obviously, I mean she was 70 in the world, and I am coming back from an injury as well, so I was out for a very long time and, you know, trying to come back, so it showed that I could be with her who is number 90 in the world, so it is a very good thing for me to see as it’s been a long journey for me coming back. So I am taking lots of positives away from that.

So what do you think you needed to do more in the match?

I felt that she was really determined to hit me out, because she hits the ball very very hard and there were some shots that I hit and were unbelievable and she just hit a winner out of it, so there was nothing I could do on certain points. I mean, there were a few shots that I should have closed, there was one when I was down 3-4 in the third and I had an adv and I had a sitter and I missed it like by a centimetre long, and I think it was because I wasn’t used to sitters and balls being so high, as every ball was so low and I did not think. I think that if I had taken that point the match could have turned around.

I think you complained a few times about the court and the bounces, what was it about?

I don’t know if it was because of the court or it’s just her as I had never played on these courts before, but every time she was hitting the backhand it had a strange backspin I had never seen before, it was playing like a grass court, there was nothing like a bounce from a red court. But I guess that’s just how she does it and it was throwing me off.

We haven’t seen you playing many times in Italy, is it actually your first time playing in here?

I have definitely never played this tournament before, but, I can’t remember when, I’ve been in Italy for vacation and I love Italy, but I can’t remember being here for tournaments. But I enjoyed my vacation here, I love the food!

As the Italian audience hasn’t really had many chances to see you, how would you describe your playing style?

My game style…I am definitely more of a Spanish-Italian kind of player, by any mean I am not a typical American player who hits the ball hard. I love red clay, as this surfaces is by far my favourite and I don’t know how that happened since I am an American, it is very weird. Because for every American red clay is weird, but I actually am more of a Spanish-type player.

After coming back from an injury, what part of your game do you think it needs to get better again?

I 100% need to get stronger, I am not tall, so, you know, I am not the most powerful person because of my height, and in order to be more powerful I need to be more muscolar, so when I was injured I lost a lot of muscles obviously, so for 7 months my legs got much thinner and I still need to gain more weight in muscles.

It all started with the US Open last here, right?

It started at Wimbledon, actually, last year. And I tried to play the US Open and I was not ready. My injury wasn’t even gone yet, but I went against what the doctors said and I went out there and played something like three games, but then had to retire and I’ve been out for a long while after that.

I think it was very tough to walk out before the end of the match and know you’ll be out for long…

It was devastating, it was the first real injury I’ve ever get and I had just reached a career highest ranking at 130 in the world and I thought I could get even better as I had no points to defend and I wanted to badly to play at the US Open, obviously, as I am a US citizen, so it has always been a big dream for me. So I wanted to go out and play and it was probably the dumbest decision of my entire life, honestly. But I have learned, you know, how stupid it was with such injury to go, so I’ve been very naïve.

And then you also had mono at the beginning of the year…

Yeah, I’ve had mono, but now everything is ok. I got it as I was coming back, I had just got a wild card for Indian Wells, so I played it with mono. It just seemed like this year was not a good year…

But after that you have won your best tournament up to date in Charlottesville, a $50k on American clay.

Kiick CharlottesvilleI did, yes. You’ve done your research for sure! (laughs) I was like…I don’t know, you can’t realise how much it meant for me, because before that I was losing to players I shouldn’t have lost to and I was struggling with my movements and my game and I was doubting my comeback and I was not sure if I could be back to my level. So winning that one meant so much to me.

I have also read that your dad was a famous football player and your mum played softball, how did you end up playing tennis?

I actually played team sports, I played softball, basketball, football…all of them and I love soccer and I was a really good soccer player and I promise I was Italian-good! But finally I went to my mum and told her I was sick of sharing the credits with everyone, you know, because on my team sports I was kinda the best player, so I thought that when we lost it was all my fault. So I said, I don’t want that anymore, and I wanted to play a sport where it’s all on me, and she was like ‘how about swimming’ and I hated it, so I quit swimming and she said ‘how about tennis?’ and I tried it and coaches said I had the talent, because of my athletic abilities, so I quit everything else, though it was tough.

Do you feel the pressure to emulate your father’s success?

No, I feel that if I was a football player I would feel it for sure, but being no football player for sure, so no, not really. I do feel like I’ve got my athletic abilities from my parents and I do feel a little bit of pressure because I want to fulfil my potential, that’s it.

So are your mum and dad travelling with you at times?

No, actually my dad is suffering of dementia from football, from being hit in the head so many times, he forgets many things now, so he doesn’t travel with me much. My mum would have come here but she had other things to do. So I am going solo for now.

Being so young and travelling the world by yourself must be tough, what do you think about being a teenager and yet living a different life made of travelling and competing?

Being alone at tournaments is definitely tough, like I come here and obviously I don’t know any Italian, luckily my friend is here, but usually I come to tournaments alone. Just missing all the teenager stuff, but I am not gonna be a teenager anymore soon, so I have to get used to be not. But even when I turn 20, they are generally out with friends on weekend, drinking, having fun and go to college and I am not gonna have this experience because I am an athlete, so I need to accept that.

Is there something people probably don’t know about you that you wish they did?

That’s a good question, I’ve never been asked that! I am a daredevil, I like to do fun-crazy things, I am not your typical tennis player that avoids fun stuff. I love snowboard, I love to wakeboard, my whole life revolves around tennis and I want to fulfil my full potential, but if I get injured doing these things I’d be mad, but I still put myself into these things basically.

Kiick tweenerI think you also love to do some crazy shots on the tennis courts too, I’ve seen you hitting a tweener recently and today you did it again…

You know, I think I’ve hit like 4 tweeners in the last matches I played, but I still haven’t won any of these points.

I have also notices you are very expressive on court, today…

Oh I am and have always been, I am actually and usually more expressive than I was today, but I think life is about having fun and I am honestly not here to tell you that everything in life is about tennis.

Last one, if you could change one thing in ITF or WTA, what would you change?

I think I speak for many girls when I say this, but on the ITF definitely the money needs to be a lot higher, especially for this circuit, because I’ve been here and on the WTA and see the difference and now that I am back here, it’s a struggle and I feel for the girls who have been here for a while and they are like 25 and trying to find the breakthrough just like I was. That’s definitely a big thing that needs to change. I know there are some changes to happen and I hope they will happen soon.