A nation famed for its sporting prowess and passion, Latvia has long been associated with creating talented sports stars. One of the best and brightest of their upcoming sports talents, though, is Jeļena Ostapenko. The Riga-born tennis player has made an impressive start to her career, winning seven single titles and eight double titles on the ITF tours she has taken part in. her best number so far as a single player in ranking terms is 36, which she achieved in May 2016.
Coached by her mother and conditioned by her father, Ostapenko eventually moved on from her mother’s coaching to work briefly with Vera Dushevina. Since, she’s taken part in various events such as the Fed Cup, Wimbledon, the French, Australian and US Opens as well as smaller minor tournaments.
With an extensive right-handed playstyle, Ostapenko uses an invigorating playstyle that is easy to watch. Throughout her budding career so far, she’s made waves in the singles game, being ranked as high as 34th (currently 39th) having become an impressive part of the women’s game. Despite being only 19 years of age, she displays a maturity on the court that exceeds many of her more illustrious opponents.
2015 was arguably the breakthrough year for Ostapenko, when she won the Ladies Neva Cup, causing major upsets against the likes of Aliaksandra Sasnovich to win the title. In the same year, she competed well in tournaments such as the Prague Open, the French Open and the Topshelf Open. Despite disappointing qualifying exists at various tournaments, she reached the second round of the US Open as well as the Coupe Banque Nationals, where she reached the final. Unfortunately, she lost to Annika Beck.
She rose to prominence, though, with a shock win over Mona Barthel, then the #3 seed for the women’s game. This innate potential immediately had people impressed by her technique and style, as she ended the season in ‘79th within the women’s ranking.
Her excellent rise continued in 2016, when she broke into the Top 40 consistently and also took part in major tournaments throughout the year. Beginning with a disappointing Australian Open first round exit to Hsieh Su-wei, she fought back from back to back losses to reach the final of the Qatar Total Open. She beat #8 ranking Petra Kvitova as she made her way to the Final, before an excruciating loss to Carla Navarro.
Reaching the semi-finals of the Italian Open, she lost to Garbine Muguruza in the third round. Various exits in the French Open and Ricoh Open followed, before beating Petra Kvitova in a shock win in the 2016 Aegon Classic. Unfortunately, her Wimbledon experience in 2016 was marred by a first-round exit to Kiki Bertens. This was followed up semi-final heartache in the Mixed Doubles at Wimbledon, partnering Oliver Marach.
2017 has so far been somewhat kinder, with a semi-final appearance at the ASB Classic one particular highlight so far. She lost to Karolina Pliskova in a three-set match in the third round of the Australian Open, showcasing her early but raw promise.