It's been quite a few weeks for Vania King. The 16 year old took full advantage of a wildcard into the U.S. Open Qualifying. Not only did she win all three of her Qualifying matches, but she one her first round Main Draw match and was a finalist in the Doubles of the Junior Championships (with Alexa Glatch.)
The three weeks at the National Tennis Center were exhausting for Vania, but more exciting than she could ever imagine. The Qualifying matches were grueling three-setters and her final loss in the Main Draw was in the Grandstand opposite fifteenth-seeded Natalie Dechy. She held her head high (as she deserved to) when she lost that match, as well the main draw doubles match she and Alexa dropped to fifth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama. There was still more tennis to play.
When Vania's Main Draw commitments were over she had little time to rest before the Junior Championships began. She made to the third round of singles before falling to sixth-seeded Marina Erakovic. All was not lost as she remained alive in doubles with Alexa and the two girls took it all the way to the finals, trying to repeat the titles they earned at the USTA Nationals. The California girls almost did it, but going home with second place from a Grand Slam event is never a bad thing.
The U.S. Open accomplishments are just part of Vania King's resume. She comes from a family of tennis playing siblings (brother Phillip won Kalamazoo twice and was a four-year All-American at Duke). She has garnered a multitude of USTA National and ITF singles & doubles titles. These include the USTA National Girls 18 Hardcourts, LTA International in Roehampton and the USTA International Winter Championships. At the USTA International Spring Championships and the Thailand International, she took both the singles and doubles titles. Add that to a many second thru fourth placements at high profile tournaments, and you have a player who doesn't leave the top of the rankings.
It actually took the full three weeks of the U.S. Open for Vania and I to get together. It worked out in the end, because by the time we did get together there was so much more to talk about than there was that first week.
by Marcia Frost
Q: What are you taking from this (U.S. Open) experience?
A: "Every match that I won was a surprise and I was shocked that I actually won. Now that I look back I've learned that I can play at the pro level and I can play at the top level. When I played against Dechy, who is 15 in the world, the score (6-1,6-2) didn't really reflect it. I actually had a lot more chances than I was thinking and I think it was just a mindset that I didn't think I could win. Now I know that I can win."
Q: What has been your best win?
A: "For myself, for my confidence in myself, I would think the first round main draw here. I don't think I fought as hard through that match as I did through Qualifying because it's a tough crowd out there. There's 128 girls that are about the same rank and they all want to get those 16 spots. I think in the last round match of my qualifying was the toughtest match that I played. I lost the second set in a tiebreaker and I was down the next set the whole time. Then it was 4-4 and I broke and I held. The whole time I didn't think I was going to win that match. I think that match was the match I fought the hardest to win. I fought every point. I tried for every ball and I was playing well, but for my confidence the first round main draw match was the best for me."
Q: What tournament did you have the most fun at??
A: "The ITF Grade 1 in Belgium. I just really liked Belgium. The people are really nice and it's really different there. The place we stayed at was really close knit. Everybody knew everybody. It was fun. And we also won the doubles there."
Q: Is there a tournament that you haven't played that you'd like to?
A: "Not really. I've been to all the Grand Slams, which was my goal."
Q: Where do you go from here?
A: "I'm supposed to go the the Fed Cup in Barcelona for the 16 and under, provided that I'm healthy. This week I feel like a worn out car -- slowly, part by part."
Q: Are you thinking about college?
A: "Not right now. It's pretty far away for me. It's a year and a half. Right now I'm just thinking about playing my best tennis."
Q: Tell me about your brother and sisters. I know your brother Philip finished college
A: "At Duke, yes. Before he went to school he was 270 in ATP, but he decided to go to college. Right after he went to college he played three tournaments and did pretty well, then he tore a tendon in his left wrist. So he was out for eight months and he's just starting again. On the men's side it's so much tougher. There are so many more players and it's much harder to get points."
Q: And your sisters?
A: "They're twins -- Mindy and Ivana. Mindy plays for UPenn and Ivana is at Princeton. They're both sophomores."
Q: Do your parents play tennis?
A: "I believe my dad played a bit in college, but he wasn't anywhere close to that level. My mom didn't play. I think she played Ping Pong. "
Q: At what age did you start playing tennis?
A: "I started my first tournament at around seven, but I picked up a racquet around five."
Q: Where do you train?
A: "At the new USTA Training Center in Carson (California). I like to go there. It's pretty convenient for me. It's only 10-15 minutes."
Q: I hear it is beautiful.
A: "Yes, it's a really nice facility. They have a lot of courts, a ball machine and coaches."
Q: Are you working with anyone in particular there?
A: "I hit mostly with Eliot (Telscher, Director of High Performance) and Ray Ruffels."
Seems like she has a lot of siblings, coming from a tennis family! Hopefully she can continue doing well!