By Martyna Ostrzgalo (as told to and written by Katherine Dolan)
Junior National Tennis Team Member
When it comes to matches, I like to be the underdog.
I try to calm myself before a match, not to freak out. It’s tough though, I am only 14 years old so it’s a skill I am still learning but I am much better than it used to be. In previous years, I used to freak out about everything. Now I try to calm myself down, because a match is stressful and tiring, so I do my best to laugh beforehand and keep things light, as much as I can.
My name is Martyna Ostrzgalo I am the Top U14 player in Rogers Rankings in Canada. I won provincials in 2018 and 2019 (U14 & U16). In the 2018 and 2019 year, I played the National Junior Championships final two years in a row. At the end of last year when I was 13, I started to play on the International Tennis Federation (ITF WorldTennisTour). It was a very successful year!
This year I am going into Grade 9 with a 90% average in school. I am on the Junior National Tennis Team in Canada and my dream is to one day play Wimbledon because I have always wanted to play in front of a big crowd and achieve something big like that, plus be on TV and maybe be famous.
Unlike other teenagers my age, I don’t spend my summer holidays on the beach. Far from it. Instead, you can find me traveling around the world and spending my summers mostly in Europe representing Team Canada. In fact this summer, my team accomplished something extraordinary. From the top 16 countries, Canada’s U14 team (the team that I am on) placed third at the World Tennis Junior Finals in Prostejov, Czech Republic. I was also there last year and I was in Belgium the year before that to represent Canada.
Unfortunately, it didn’t get much coverage in Canada. Bianca Andresscu won the Rogers Cup at the same time, so the news didn’t go far. But that’s okay. I am still proud of our team.
I started playing tennis at around 6 or 7 and started entering tournaments when I was 8. My father has always been my coach, and while I do have other coaches, my father just knows me the best. My father and mother immigrated from Poland to Edmonton, Alberta before my brother and I were born. They both played tennis in Poland, never competitively, but recreationally.
It was my brother who picked up the sport first and I followed suit, learning the game by playing against him and older kids his age. We grew up watching Roger Federer and Marat Safin and today, I definitely look up to Novak Jokavic and of course Federer.
If you watch me on the court, I can be really loud and intense, unless I am playing somebody weaker. If it is someone I know I can beat, I usually play more casual and try to practice things that I am struggling with. My strength as a tennis player is probably my fighting spirit. I usually play three-set matches, tight matches, and my strong mentality helps me to fight back when I am down 5-2 or 4-1.
Since I have played a lot of younger players and am still a young player myself, I have noticed a disturbing trend in my peers and I am hoping to share my experience and advice. Some players tend to give up, not go all the way to the end and just quit when they are down.
Why? I don’t know. For me, I never give up and I wish that other kids my age felt the same way too.
My advice would be that if you are going to play and compete, play to the very end, up until the last point. Give it your all, regardless if you are going to lose in the next 20 seconds or not, give the last power and sweat so you can be proud of giving it your best the whole time.
As for parents, my parents have always had faith in my skill and ability. I hope that other parents have faith in their kids too. They could be the worst kid at 8, but then turn out to be the best player in the world. You never know. Have faith in your kids and always trust their instincts.
That’s it for me. I have a busy schedule of training, school, homework and more training. I am off to a training session now, to focus on my weaknesses. It’s easy to work on your strengths so I am off to work on areas I need to improve.
See you on the court,