When Florida native Allie Kiick turned pro at the age of 18, a bright tennis future lay before her. Daughter of Miami Dolphins running back Jim Kiick she experienced early success. “I would be lying if I said the beginning of my career was tough because, aside from a few ups and downs, I did pretty well,” Kiick recalled to Cracked Rackets in January 2018. She climbed steadily in the rankings, reaching a career high rank of World No. 137 at age 19. Then everything changed.
A crippling knee pain first emerged at Wimbledon in 2014 and returned in earnest the following week at a tournament in Sweden. It ended up sidelining Kiick for 8 months.
With no income, I lost every dime I’d ever made, and had to watch, helplessly and in horror, as my ranking plummeted. I felt like all that hard work I did, all those amazing wins, were all for nothing.
A year after the initial onset of pain Kiick found herself back at Wimbledon. As fate would have it, history repeated itself on the grass courts as Kiick experienced the same pain that halted her career twelve months before. Except this time it was her opposite knee. An MRI revealed that what was initially thought as a bone bruise was actually much worse: two OCD lesions, one in each knee.
My only way back to tennis was to go ahead with these surgeries. Despite knowing the road I had ahead, I was not going to give up. I would make it back no matter how deeply the odds were stacked against me.
To add insult to literal injury, Kiick was diagnosed with stage one melanoma. In a matter of months this promising young athlete had gone from climbing to rankings to enduring not one but two painful knee surgeries to battling cancer. But like the warrior she has proven to be, Kiick tackled this new challenge like the rest: keeping focused on the future.
2018 has been a comeback year for Kiick and 5 years after she first turned pro the 23-year-old has begun her second steady climb in the rankings. Starting the year at World No. 389 she has made incredible strides and currently holds the World No. 172 spot. As a Chicago Oracle Challenger Series wild card recipient Kiick made the most of the opportunity in her first round win over World No. 95, Kristyna Pliskova.