Allie Kiick is known for her feisty, never-give-in attitude on the tennis court.
She showed that Thursday as she battled Croatia’s Ana Konjuh in the Orange Bowl International Championship at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation.
But Kiick’s feistiness and determination weren’t enough. She came up just short.
And coming up just short is what many people would surmise is happening to American tennis.
Kiick, who is 17, ranked 27th in the world and seeded 11th in the OB International, strongly disagrees.
“We get a lot of criticism,” she said of the young American players. “I don’t know why. Taylor Townsend is No. 1 [in the world]. We’re all working really hard and support each other. I think we will do really well in the future.”
Even Konjuh, Kiick’s opponent, agreed with that assessment.
“You have really good players,” said Konjuh, ranked 16th in the world and seeded seventh in the OB International. “U.S. tennis is doing better and better. Don’t worry.”
Kiick, the daughter of former Dolphins running back Jim Kiick, approaches the game of tennis with a complete sense of focus.
“It’s true, very true; I take it very seriously,” she said. “Yeah, losing is really hard on me. I work really hard and no one likes to lose.”
Thursday’s match was not a runaway.
In fact, Kiick had a great opportunity to win the first set. She was up 6-5 and 30-love but lost that game.
Then in the tiebreaker, the score was 2-2 but that was the last point Kiick would see in the first set, with Konjuh winning the tiebreaker 7-2.
In the second set, Konjuh settled in with power strokes down the lines and coasted to a 6-2 triumph to win the set and the match.
Nevertheless, Kiick said, with her determination still showing, “I never felt out of it. There wasn’t one time when I didn’t think I could win.”
Describing Konjuh, who is 14, Kiick added, “She’s a very strong player. Her ball is deep and penetrating. She’s going to be a great player.”
In the near future, Kiick will test her abilities in some pro tournaments while playing as an amateur, including the Australian Open Juniors.
She also has a collegiate future ahead of her. At this point, she has narrowed her choices to Miami, Florida and Duke.
“I have until April to decide,” she said, not tipping her hand.
As for a possible professional career?
“It depends on the agents and if they come,” she said. “We’ll see how I do on the pro circuit.”
The finals in the boys’ and girls’ 16s in the OB International will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The 18s finals will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday.