WTA Insider David Kane | WTA Rising Star Jelena Ostapenko spoke about her week of firsts after reaching the final in Québec City.
WTA Staff

In women's tennis, winning Wimbledon can be a one-way ticket to WTA success, but some have hoisted the trophy without ever having stepped onto Centre Court. Starting shortly after Middle Sunday, the junior tournament plays host to a horde of WTA Future Stars, with its winners already on the rise.

Eugenie Bouchard and Belinda Bencic were both ranked inside the Top 100 within 12 months of their All England accession and, after her week on the hardcourts of the Coupe Banque Nationale, 2014 Wimbledon girl's singles champion and WTA Rising Star Jelena Ostapenko isn't too far behind.

"I like grass courts, and hardcourts, also, but not the clay courts!" the Latvian No.1 told WTA Insider in the wake of reaching her first WTA final.

Even if she loses on Sunday to fellow WTA Rising Star Annika Beck, the 18-year-old is guaranteed a Top 100 debut on Monday.

"The goal for me at the beginning of the season was to finish Top 100 and to get into the main draw for the Australian Open, and I think I'm going to finish in Top 100."

Since summer began, Ostapenko has employed what she calls "intelligent offense" to devastating effect, making good use of the main draw wildcard she earned into Wimbledon's senior tournament by upsetting then-World No.9 Carla Suárez Navarro - with the loss of just two games - and qualifying for her first major fortnight in Flushing four weeks ago.

Playing her first full season on the senior circuit has provided its challenges, but the daily grind hasn't been too different for the teenager.

"I think top juniors could also play good on this level," Ostapenko insists, but believes success on the WTA tour boils down to two crucial changes: confidence and consistency.

"Senior players play the same, every match."

Few courts like those in Québec remain on the WTA tour, but the former No.2 on the ITF rankings has drawn on her experience from the junior circuit to carry her into a first WTA quarter, semi, and final - all in the last five days. It has been such a busy week for Ostapenko that she's hardly ventured beyond the confines of the tournament site itself.

"I will probably go exploring today or tomorrow, because I've been on the tennis courts all the time!"

Outlasting No.3 seed Mona Barthel in three long sets, Ostapenko survived a third set tie-break against the resurgent WTA Rising Star Jessica Pegula before dancing though her next two matches over Paula Kania and Naomi Broady, who was also in her first WTA semifinal.

That's no idle metaphor: for seven years, she balanced tennis with ballroom dancing, and credits her tidy footwork to nearly a decade on the dance floor.

"I think it helps because in ballroom dancing you also have to be coordinated."

Ultimately, Ostapenko proved more inclined to the rhythm of a rally, especially when ballroom had to contend with blood. Born to a family of tennis players, her father Jevgenijs was a highly skilled amateur, but it was her mother - also named Jelena - who catalyzed a love for the tennis court, and has been at her side throughout her week in Québec.

"My mom is a tennis coach, so I was always with her when she was at the tennis courts, and at five years old I started to play tennis."

On Sunday, Ostapenko aims to become the first Latvian to win a WTA title in over five years, following former Top 40 fixture Anastasija Sevastova, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2011 and recently returned to tennis after a brief retirement. Alongside Sevastova and ATP star Ernests Gulbis, the Québec City finalist completes quite a talented trio.

"I'm really happy that even though Latvia is a small country, we can have good players and we can represent our country."

Intent on showing her best tennis against an opponent she has beaten twice in two meetings, a footloose and fancy-free Ostapenko named the hockey biopic "Legend No.17" as her favorite film. Playing her 17th tournament of 2015, this former Wimbledon winner just may be on course to becoming a legend all her own.