Helen Kelesi

Helen Kelesi

Helen Kelesi (born 15 November 1969) is a Canadian former tour professional tennis player. She has been coached by her father, Milan Kelesi, throughout her tennis career.

Career

"Hurricane Helen", as the Canadian press dubbed her for her fiery demeanour, achieved a career high WTA ranking of World No. 13 (November 1989), and was a regular fixture in the top-25 between 1986 and 1991. She won singles titles in two tour events, the 1986 Japan Open and the 1988 Citta de Taranto, and was a singles French Open quarter-finalist in 1988 (lost to Gabriela Sabatini) and 1989 (lost to Mary-Joe Fernandez). During her time on the WTA Tour, Kelesi recorded wins over Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Conchita Martinez, Jana Novotna, Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, Helena Sukova and Pam Shriver, and pushed Chris Evert and Monica Seles hard in high-profile matches. She also held a set-point in a 4th Round match at the French Open against Steffi Graf in 1987.

Kelesi's game was characterized by aggressive baseline play, with a powerful top-spin forehand and two-handed backhand. She also retrieved well and could play defensively when needed. These skills meant that Kelesi was particularly good on clay and hard-court surfaces. Her volley and forecourt play was not so instinctive, however, and a missed volley at a crucial stage in a match against Monica Seles illustrated this (Seles won 4–6 6–4 6–4 in a second round match at the 1990 French Open).

Kelesi was a Canadian Federation Cup team member from 1986 to 1993. She was Tennis Canada singles player of the year four times (1986, 1987, 1989, and 1990).

Kelesi's professional career came to an end in 1995 when a brain tumour the size of a tennis ball was discovered following months of headaches, dizziness and vision problems. Numerous operations followed over the years, Kelesi successfully recovered and began coaching young children in Canada in the late 1990s. She also became a part-time tennis journalist and commentator.

WTA Tour finals

Singles: 9 (2 titles, 7 runners-up)

Winner — Legend
Grand Slam tournaments (0–0)
WTA Tour Championships (0–0)
Tier I (0–0)
Tier II (0–0)
Tier III (0–1)
Tier IV (0–3)
Tier V (1–2)
Virginia Slims (1–1)
Titles by Surface
Hard (1–3)
Grass (0–0)
Clay (1–4)
Carpet (0–0)
Outcome No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Runner-up 1. 26 August 1985 Monticello Hard Barbara Potter 6–4, 3–6, 2–6
Winner 1. 19 October 1986 Tokyo Hard Bettina Fulco 6–2, 6–2
Winner 2. 1 May 1988 Taranto Clay Laura Garrone 6–1, 6–0
Runner-up 2. 8 May 1988 Rome Clay Gabriela Sabatini 1–6, 7–6(4), 1–6
Runner-up 3. 7 August 1988 Cincinnati Hard Barbara Potter 2–6, 2–6
Runner-up 4. 30 April 1989 Barcelona Clay Arantxa Sánchez Vicario 2–6, 7–5, 1–6
Runner-up 5. 12 November 1989 Nashville Hard (I) Leila Meskhi 2–6, 3–6
Runner-up 6. 27 May 1990 Geneva Clay Barbara Paulus 6–2, 5–7, 6–7(3)
Runner-up 7. 26 May 1991 Geneva Clay Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere 3–6, 6–3, 3–6

Doubles: 5 (2 titles, 3 runners-up)

Winner — Legend
Grand Slam tournaments (0–0)
WTA Tour Championships (0–0)
Tier I (1–1)
Tier II (0–0)
Tier III (0–1)
Tier IV (1–0)
Tier V (0–1)
Titles by Surface
Hard (1–2)
Grass (0–0)
Clay (1–1)
Carpet (0–0)
Outcome No. Date Tournament Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 1. 1 May 1988 Taranto Clay Laura Garrone Andrea Betzner
Claudia Porwik
1–6, 2–6
Runner-up 2. 7 August 1988 Cincinnati Hard Lindsay Bartlett Beth Herr
Candy Reynolds
6–4, 6–7(9), 1–6
Winner 1. 13 May 1990 Rome Clay Monica Seles Laura Garrone
Laura Golarsa
6–3, 6–4
Runner-up 3. 5 August 1990 Montreal Hard Raffaella Reggi Betsy Nagelsen
Gabriela Sabatini
6–3, 2–6, 2–6
Winner 2. 21 October 1990 Scottsdale Hard Elise Burgin Sandy Collins
Ronni Reis
6–4, 6–2

Grand Slam singles performance timeline

Tournament 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 Career SR
Australian Open A NH 2R A A 3R A 1R A 2R A A A 0 / 4
French Open 1R 1R 4R QF QF 2R 3R A 1R 1R A A A 0 / 9
Wimbledon 1R 2R 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R A 3R 1R A A A 0 / 9
U.S. Open 1R 3R 3R 2R 1R 2R 2R 1R 1R 1R A A A 0 / 10
SR 0 / 3 0 / 3 0 / 4 0 / 3 0 / 3 0 / 4 0 / 3 0 / 2 0 / 3 0 / 4 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 32
Year End Ranking 48 39 32 19 13 25 29 128 49 124 NR NR 763

External links