Re: Sacha Jones
A good article on Sacha becoming Australian.
Jones out of comfort zone
Date January 15, 2013 Linda Pearce Sports writer for The Age
YOU can quiz Sacha Jones about how Australian she feels, or the reception she thinks she might receive if she returns to contest the WTA event in her former home town of Auckland, but not on the delicate subject of who the nation's latest tennis recruit supports in trans-Tasman sporting contests. The Wallabies or All Blacks? Diamonds or Silver Ferns?
''You can't ask me that question,'' Jones said with a resigned smile. Earlier, she had admitted: ''I feel sort-of torn in the middle sometimes.''
The 22-year-old officially switched nationalities 12 months ago, an Australian father providing access to a passport, and the vastly better-resourced Tennis Australia offering coaching and training assistance, as well as access to wildcards, New Zealand could not match. Across the ditch, it was reported at the time as ''her decision to turn her back on her country'', and ''a huge surprise and shock''. Indeed, it took some courage for Jones to play her first tournament as an Australian, last January, as a wildcard recipient in New Zealand.
''It was a bit uncomfortable, but I really wanted to play, my friends and family don't often get to see me play, and yeah, it was a bit strange, and I felt a bit awkward, but I was really well received, and I think most people can understand that people are chopping and changing between New Zealand and Australia all the time,'' Jones said. ''I'm not an enigma.''
On Monday, at Melbourne Park, she made her grand slam debut. She had missed three months with a wrist tendon injury so serious there was some doubt she would play tennis again. She has, but while now playing without pain, she also played without success, the grateful wildcard entry beaten 6-3, 6-2 by tall Czech Kristyna Pliskova out on court seven to become the Open's first local loser of 2013.
There were the obligatory green-and-gold wigs in the stands, and a few calls from a flag-clad supporter in the crowd to ''come on Jonesy''. But if she still has to remind herself at times that she is Australian now, and she knows her Kiwi twang is an obvious clue that she came from elsewhere, then the crowd support was also polite but restrained.
The oi, oi oi business does take some getting used to. ''Yeah, it is a bit weird actually,'' said the Melbourne-based baseliner, whose brother ''GD'' Jones coaches South Africa's Kevin Anderson, a Sydney International finalist last week.
''But I spent so much time in Australia growing up, and my brother, sister, dad, they're all Australian, so it's a bit weird, yes, but it's nice as well.''
In New Zealand, she was the No. 2 behind Marina Erakovic when she left. In Australia, the world No. 183 is ranked seventh nationally behind standout Sam Stosur.
Top 10: Ashleigh Barty, Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Garcia, Jamie Hampton, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, Lucie Safarova, Maria Sharapova, Karolina Sprem, Sam Stosur.
All time favourite: Anna Chakvetadze
Will my weakness for an hour, make me suffer for a life time?