Angela Haynes courts success again
First-round win over Errani at Indian Wells is a small step back for player who has struggled since death of her brother in 2005important]By Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 13, 2008
The body was fine, thank you, it just took longer for Angela Haynes' mind to click back to where it had been in 2005 when she pushed Serena Williams to the brink of elimination at Wimbledon.
Haynes, raised in Compton and now living in Irvine, has practically been absent from the main WTA Tour the last couple of years, and her colleagues were wondering what physical reason was behind it when she resurfaced at the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells.
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After all, she is anything but old in tennis years, all of 23.
"People have been asking me where I've been," Haynes said. "Have I been hurt? No, I've just been playing challengers."
Haynes, a wild-card entrant, was talking Wednesday in the media center, not long after a deeply satisfying first-round victory. Not that most wins don't hold that distinction, but this one will give her a shot at defending champion and fifth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova in the second round.
Moreover, at this time last year she was getting ready to play a $25,000 challenger in Orange. Now her 7-5, 6-2 victory over Sara Errani of Italy represented her biggest of the year, in terms of a big-event platform and her ranking.
Errani, who nearly beat Lindsay Davenport in the first round of the Australian Open in January, is ranked No. 72 to Haynes' 221. And Haynes was forced to scramble back from an 0-4 first-set deficit.
"I figured it couldn't get any worse," Haynes said. "I was going to call my dad, my coach, after the set and ask him what I was doing wrong. I needed some help, badly.
"I felt if I can get one game and get my nerves down and get something going, I felt I was going to be OK. She was playing well. I was just giving her too many free points."
Her year started at a $25,000 tournament in St. Leo, Fla., and traveling the minor-league route can often be humbling experience after the gilded rides at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
"Back when I was playing well, having good results, you can take it for granted so easily," Haynes said. "And I think that's what I did. I got a little cocky and had a couple of humbling experiences.
"Being here now, you just have to work hard and when you get to where you want to be, you have to work even harder to keep it. I definitely know that now."
What happened to Haynes is understandable. Her brother Dontia, who played tennis at San Diego State, was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2005.
Their bond went beyond the closeness of a brother and sister. They were trained by their father, Fred, and Angela joked at Wimbledon how angry Serena Williams used to get at losing to Dontia when they were kids growing up in Compton.
Not long after Dontia's death, father and daughter were back on the road.
"It's brought us a lot closer, especially after what happened to my brother," she said. "I respect my dad a whole lot more. He went back with me on the road a month after my brother passed away, which was the hardest thing for him."
"It was very tough. My mom needed him the most and he came with me."
She spoke about the long struggle to pull herself together.
"My mind has really, really been gone," Haynes said. "I've had a lot of setbacks. I've tried to get it back and my mind was gone again.
"But, this year I feel good. My head is there. I've got to leave it behind me and move forward."