Nice article on Anne-Liz
Jeukeng, 15, a rising star at Dow Corning Tennis Classic
Competing on the professional tennis tour is not always about nice hotels and comfy beds, as Anne-Liz Jeukeng and her father Nassaire have found out.
"When we first were playing tournaments, we stayed in our van," said Jeukeng, 15. "It was really hard to afford the traveling. It was very difficult and we tried our best to make it to the matches."
This week, Jeukeng, a Dow Corning Tennis Classic wild card entry, was able to check into a hotel and also won her first match before losing Thursday to top-seeded Lucie Hradecka, who's ranked No. 47 in the world.
"I was excited going into (the Hradecka match)," Jeukeng said. "I was hoping to play a good match and I think I accomplished that. This is the first time I've played anybody in the top-100. I've played a couple of players in the top-200 and got a couple of wins over them."
Hradecka won Thursday's match 6-2, 7-5, but not before Jeukeng put up a fight.
"I understood her game better in the second set," Jeukeng said. "I was able to really set up my points in the second set and able to get a lot of points moving into the net and finishing it there. But, the first set I was so defensive. It was really hard to get the ball back in the first set."
The 26-year-old Hradecka likes what she sees from Jeukeng, who's ranked 629th in the world.
"She has a very good future ahead," said Hradecka. "She played very well and has a very good serve."
Not only did Jeunkeng play well on the court, but she was also given the Larry Reed "Most Promising Newcomer" Award. Previous winners of the award were 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and 2011 French Open champion Li Na.
The journey for Jeukeng to Midland began in the African country of Cameroon, where she was born. Two years later, her family moved to Kansas City, Mo.
"I lived (in Kansas City) for nine years," said Jeukeng. "When I was 11, we moved to Boca Raton, Fla., where we currently live."
Jeukeng likes the individual competition that tennis provides.
"I enjoy tennis because it's one-on-one and very unique," she said. "The only other sport like it is boxing."
Helping her climb the tennis ladder is her dad, Nassaire, who doubles as her coach.
"I love it," she said. "I know that he wants the best for me all the time. If I listen to him, I'll make it."
For Jeukeng, making it means competing in the Grand Slams by the time she turns 16.
"To get there, I need to be out on the court every morning and late at night," she said. "I need to work on specifics with my father and work as hard as I possibly can. I think I need to work on everything to improve."
Her game includes a one-handed backhand, just like her idol Pete Sampras.
"I like my one-handed backhand," she said. "I think that is a unique aspect that most girls don't have. I like having that signature shot."
An accident several years ago forced the right-handed Jeukeng to take up a one-handed backhand.
"When I was eight years old, I fell on my left wrist and was in a cast for six months," she said. "I was forced to play a one-handed backhand. Since then, I've been playing that way."
The next stop for Jeukeng and her father will be the Indian Wells (Calif.) pre-qualifier from March 2-6.