Three years ago next week, an 11-year old Nikola Bartunkova won her first Tennis Europe Junior Tour title, on home soil in Rakovnik. Since then, the Czech has captured titles in the 12, 14 and 16 & Under categories, and is now the current European #1 in her age group. We caught up with her to find out more about her life on the Junior Tour.
Tell us more about yourself...what do you like to do when you are not playing?
I was born in Prague and I have one older sister. When I am not playing tennis, I am usually at school. In my free time I like to do some other sports as well. I used to play football competitively when I was younger. I am representing my school in floorball and table tennis events. I like to play basketball, all ball games. In winter, skiing is my fun activity. I like reading good books and also I like to watch some good movies or series.
Who motivated you to play tennis?
My dad is a tennis coach. I've been on the courts a lot when I was little, playing on the wall all the time. My sister also played tennis.
How do you prepare yourself for a match? Do you have any special routines before or after?
In the evening before the match I prepare my tennis bag with all equipment, checking my tennis rackets, and so on. In case I am at home I like to have my favourite meal for dinner.
In the morning, my routine before match is usually half an hour warm up, sometimes I am reading book before the match. Nothing special.
You have played several Tennis Europe team events representing your country. How important is it for you? Do you prefer to play team events or individual tournaments?
Representing my country is very important to me. It's an honour for me, I look forward to these team competitions for the atmosphere, and I like to play in a t-shirt with the Czech flag. Overall, I prefer more individual tournaments, but I think I am also a team player, so team events are good as well.
What has been your favourite moment on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour so far?
My best memory from Tennis Europe Junior Tour so far is probably my first big tournament abroad, the 12 & Under, “OPEN SUPER 12 AURAY” in France. Despite my loss in the final, I have beautiful memories from this tournament.
What do enjoy the most in a tournament? And what is the most difficult part for you?
I like matches in tournaments, playing against new opponents, winning, and exploring new regions.
The hardest thing about travelling to tournaments is to get used to the new environment, be well oriented, to get used to the different weather, food...
Do you like the international experience that playing the Tennis Europe Junior Tour gives? What do you prefer from traveling abroad and in which country do you like to play or train?
I love it! I am in contact with players from different countries, some of them are my friends. I cannot tell which country I like the most. In Europe I enjoyed playing in Italy, as it was close to the sea. And one day I would like to go to Spain for a tournament.
What are your main goals in your future career? Which tournament would be most special for you to win?
Probably the biggest goals are to be world number one and win the most Grand Slams. My favourite tournament is probably Wimbledon. But in the near future my goal will be to get to the junior grand slams on ITF Junior Tour.
Which tennis players do you follow on social media? Who do you think has been the most entertaining recently?
I am following many tennis players, mainly Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Petra Kvitova, Dominic Thiem...the most entertaining player during this crisis was probably Stan Wawrinka.
Which tennis player do you admire most? Have you already met them?
My idols are Federer, Nadal and Petra Kvitova. I only met Petra Kvitova. Hopefully I will meet the other two as well, soon!
We reckon you will...maybe even at Wimbledon! Thanks Nikola, we hope to see you back on the Junior Tour very soon!