Tennis player from Slovakia Kristína Kučová (32) cannot devote herself fully to training due to health problems, which is also why she had an interesting opportunity during the EMPIRE Indoor Tennis Tour in Trnava. She helped on the tournament desk. "As a player, I know what the players need. I was really looking forward to trying it out and helping the tournament a little. Yes, I was a girl for everything. But then I entrust it to my mother, because it was difficult to combine this task with my time at physiotherapy and a busy schedule, including laser treatment and swimming in Bratislava," revealed Kučová with a smile, who will return to TC EMPIRE Trnava in November 2022 to train for the new season.
How are you?
"I'm fine. The long-term stress from the tennis tournaments fell off me, the adrenaline fell off me. At the same time, however, I am already concentrating on next year and the new season. I really liked to have a little rest like this, both mentally and physically. I want to come back again."
How long has the injury been bothering you and what exactly is it? Are you planning to return to the Australian Open 2023?
"I'm planning to come back in Australia, and I hope it works out. I last played at the Grand Slam tournament in Wimbledon. I was already considering a break at the end of April or May of this year when I caught covid for the second time this year. I felt terrible. I was sad that I couldn't train, and I couldn't do almost anything. I was disappointed because I was again in the top 100 of the WTA rankings and the problems with covid dragged on for the whole year. I didn't know in that time whether I would wrap it up after Roland Garros or after Wimbledon. I'm glad that thanks to the freezing of the ranking, I’m still in the top 100. Due to covid, the condition of my knee also worsened, and that's why I came to such a decision."
Have you developed any post-covid syndrome? It happens to ordinary people, as well as professional athletes, who they’re complaining that it affects their form.
"It's something like that. Because my blood test results were good, but my body was tired, I had no energy. After ten minutes of training, I was getting cramps. I had non-stop chest pain. Plus, I felt terrible fatigue, as if my legs were completely gone. Like what Slovak cyclist Peter Sagan said in the past. My knee also started to hurt. I felt miserable."
Did you go to any experts to find a solution to the situation?
"I went for surgery on my right knee for the first time in 2018. I went to several specialists, including Pavel Kolář in Prague. I was seen by doctors on almost all continents. Now I have consulted everything with Mr. Kordoš in Retro in Bratislava, with whom I have been taking over the details for the last two or three years. He also treated knee with hyaluronic acid. Now I'm dealing with it with physiotherapists, who have set up exercises for me."
What kind of training you can do? You have already trained in Trnava.
"It depends. I will mainly focus on strengthening the knee. I mainly lean on my healthy leg; I can't lean properly on the sick one. It's going very slowly, but at least it's going well. I have trainings occasionally, I also trained with Ela Pláteníková, or with other players from the EMPIRE Tennis Academy. However, it is usually only from the center of the court, or with minimal movement. I want to hold a racquet in my hand, I can't go a few months without playing at all. But at the same time, I can't be in match mode yet."
When will that time come?
"It's slowly getting better, so I want to do more. But now I'm going to visit my friend in New York. I will start playing with him too. Subsequently, I will return to TC EMPIRE Trnava in November. After that, I will set up a training program with head coach Vladimír Pláteník. I hope it will be without problems by then."
There is also a young, just 16-year-old American Brooklyn Olson in the club now, did she come here with you?
“Yes, my friend trained her in America. We wanted to help her in this way. Coach Pláteník and the club also helped in this. We also offered her the possibility that she would stay here and come here and train in the EMPIRE Tennis Academy."
Brooklyn also tried both tournaments with a Prize Money of USD 60,000 in Trnava. She has received wild cards into the singles qualifying.
"She was very nervous at the first tournament. At the second one, it was better. It was a great experience for her, she can only profit from this and move forward. When she looks back on it, I think she will be satisfied. She played her first 60K women's tournament."
What was your impression of your new position at the tournaments in Trnava? You also helped on the tournament desk.
"I like doing it, because as far as tournaments are concerned, as a player I know what is needed. I was very happy to be able to try it and help the tournament a little. Yes, I was a girl for everything (laughs). But then I entrust it to my mother, because it was difficult to combine this task with my time at physiotherapy and a busy schedule, including laser treatment and swimming in Bratislava. I couldn't be here all day. But my mother likes to do it very much and she also got used to it. We'll see if the deputy director of the tournament, Tomáš Boleman, will call her for other tournaments as well."
What was your job description?
"I gave tennis balls to the players; I wrote down their training sessions. They either came to me in person or texted me on my cell phone. Some wanted to know where they could get a massage. Mariam Bolkvadze from Georgia wrote to me asking if I knew a good physiotherapist here, apart from the tournament one, who also helped tennis players. I also turned on the lights in the tennis hall, I was playing with Brooklyn before the match. Players also asked me about good restaurants in the town."
Weren't some players curious if you are changing your career?
"Some were curious about me, whether I miss tennis or not. I chatted with about half of the players from the tournament draw."
What feedback did you get from the players for the first two 60K tournaments in Trnava?
"I think they were very satisfied. If I were to compare these tournaments with experiences from, for example, November, December or February indoor events in France, it's a pure freezer over there. Even the water in my bottle froze in the hall in Grenoble. They have such a cold there that even if these were the last tournaments, I will never go there again in my life. Everything was great in TC EMPIRE Trnava. Players had a hotel, restaurant, players’ lounge, etc. in one place. They had nothing to complain about."