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by Paul Rivard

March 21, 2023

They’re virtually everywhere: in singles, in doubles and in the upper echelons of the world rankings.

For years, Czech players have dominated the game. In WTA competition and at Billie Jean King Cup, they’ve been an integral part of 21st-century women’s tennis. Much to their rivals’ chagrin.

Like other WTA events, the National Bank Open in Montréal will realize this, too, as it opens the doors of its singles and doubles draws to the considerable Czech delegation.

As a matter of fact, the world’s best women’s doubles team is from Czechia.

Photo : Jimmie48/WTA


Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova are No.1 and No.2, respectively, and recently widened the gap with the rest of the pack when they raised the winners’ trophy in Indian Wells after disposing of Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil and Laura Siegemund of Germany in the final (6-1, 6-7(3), 10-7).

Since the US Open, Katerina and Barbora have been in the mix at six tournaments, fighting their way to one semi and five finals from which they took home three crowns, including two Slams.

No wonder they’re the top two.

There are six Czech players in the WTA Top 100 in doubles and even more in the singles rankings.

On March 20, before Marketa Vondrousova took a tumble, there were nine Czech players in the Top 100. Eight are in Top 55.


Photo : Twitter

Czech players in the WTA (March 20, 2023)

  • No. 12 – Petra Kvitova
  • No. 13– Barbora Krejcikova
  • No. 17– Karolina Pliskova
  • No. 36– Marie Bouzkova
  • No. 46 – Katerina Siniakova
  • No. 51– Linda Fruhvirtova
  • No. 52– Linda Noskova
  • No. 55– Karolina Muchova

And the next generation is already here. No.52 Linda Noskova is only 18 years old, No.51 Linda Fruhvirtova is 17, and her younger sister Brenda, 15, is No.142. Up-and-comer Sara Bejlek, No.170, just turned 17.

Photo : Tennis Actu


How has Czech tennis managed to keep so many players at the top of the WTA rankings for so many years?

Only the United States have fared better, placing 15 women in the Top 100. But the US has a population of 300 million—30 times more than the 10 million Czechs.

The answer may lie in the career of the most prolific player of all-time, Martina Navratilova, who was born in the capital city of Prague.

On the social question-and-answer website Quora, a clarification provided by Brno native Eva Horova in response to a user who referred to the former Czechoslovakia caught my attention: “Martina N. was born in 1956 in Czechia (the non-Slovak part of Czechoslovakia). Republics, kingdoms and all regimes leave, but lands remain, and so does tennis!”

Photo : Lifetime

There’s currently only one woman from Slovakia in the Top 100: No.100 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. To put together the Slovak Top 8, you’ll have to scroll all the way to No.560.

There was a time when players from Slovakia like Daniela Hantuchova (No.5, 2002), Dominika Cibulkova (No.4, 2017), Barbora Strycova (No.16, 2017) and Magdalena Rybarikova (No.17, 2018) were dreaded opponents, but there haven’t been many Slovaks compared to all the Czech success stories since the start of the current millennium.

National pride is certainly a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked, since it takes only one standout model to inspire an entire nation. Canada is a great example of that: Raonic, Marino and Bouchard inspired Andreescu, Fernandez, Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

But there’s more to it than that.

A few months ago, Jaroslav Plasil, a tennis writer for Czech Radio, offered a few explanations in an online article for Radio Prague International. He noted there were ten women in the main draw of the Australian Open but only three men.

He doesn’t believe the enduring presence of Czech women among the world elite is the product of a miraculous training system.

He wrote that, compared to other countries, the competitive system in Czechia is rather well organized for athletes at a very young age. That stimulates competition between players, and the training centres help relieve the burden on parents who can’t always afford to finance their daughters’ careers.

According to Plasil, tennis is among the most popular sports for young girls. While boys have access to plenty of other options that all children can or want to play, like soccer or hockey, girls don’t. So tennis isn’t just a third, fourth or fifth choice for them. That’s why the most talented girls play tennis, which is less the case for boys.

If you look at the odds, it may very well be a player from Czechia who takes home the National Bank Open title. Or perhaps one from the US, Russia, Italy, Spain or even China, which are the countries with the most representatives in the WTA Top 100.

The ranking is from a Tennis Canada blog I wrote in early February.


Photo : Paul Rivard

After her amazing run at the 2021 US Open, Leylah Fernandez picked up a tonne of sponsorship offers.

So it came as no surprise when she started popping up in ads all over the subway station nearest IGA Stadium during last summer’s National Bank Open.

What better place for brands to gain visibility than at the turnstiles through which waves of fans constantly stream through during the 10-day event?