Getting To Know... Jamea Jackson
American teenager Jamea Jackson
has asserted herself as one of the true up-and-comers on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour within the last year-and-a-half, reaching her first quarterfinal in 2005 at Memphis, playing an impressive match against then-No.1 and eventual finalist Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon a few months later and afterwards cracking the Top 100. Recently in Miami, Jackson became the first player in history to make use of the new instant replay challenge system, albeit unsuccessfully, during a nail-biting opening round victory over countrywoman Ashley Harkleroad. Over the weekend, she notched two all-important singles victories during the USA's Fed Cup World Group I first round win over Germany (including her career-first Top 20 victory over Anna-Lena Groenefeld).
caught up with Jamea recently in Miami.
Talk about your home town, where you were born and grew up.
I was born in Fairburn, Georgia, a calm, suburban community. When I was young, all the kids in the neighborhood got together to play basketball and it was a blast. I also played t-ball and did ballet.
What does your family do? Do any of them play sports or tennis?
I have an older brother, Jarryd, who is in his fifth year of Pharmacy at Florida A&M. That's why you'll see me wearing my Florida A&M shirt. My parents live in Bradenton and both are retired.
Talk about your earliest memory playing tennis; how did you start?
I was around tennis a lot because both of my parents played. I do remember when I was at a summer camp at age 6, the head pro said I was too young to play with the tennis group. I was so upset I just started crying. I think he eventually let me play.
What did you like doing as a child outside of playing tennis?
I played other sports but my favorite thing was laser tag at Dixie Land. That's where we went whenever my friends had birthdays.
Tell us about your early coaching; how were you supported?
When I was little I worked with Ernie Peterson and then I went to the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy at age 11.
Who were your tennis idols growing up, and why?
When I was younger I always admired the Williams sisters for their athleticism and power games. I also loved watching Pete Sampras.
In your own words, describe your game style and your strengths.
I'm an aggressive baseliner and try to use speed to my advantage as much as I can. I'm also working on improving my net game.
What type of off-court training do you do?
I always do a lot of stretching, sprints and biking. I'm also starting to add some more tennis-specific weight training to the regimen. My strength is very important for me to compete with the taller and bigger girls on the Tour. It also helps with injury prevention.
What is the strongest memory of your career to date?
I've had good moments, but I think the best is still to come.
What do you like to do to relax away from the courts?
I like hanging out with friends and listening to music. I like R&B and hip hop. I also like Sade, I have almost all of her CDs. My favorite TV show is 24, but I always buy it on DVD because I miss the first few episodes when Iím in Australia. After you miss a couple of episodes of that show it is hopeless because nothing makes sense. Also, my new hobby is playing pool. I need some practice though.
What would you have done if you hadnít been a tennis player?
I think I would've been a teacher since I like kids.
Your father, Ernest, is a former NFL quarterback. What is it like having a father who was himself a professional athlete?
It's cool because he understands the dedication it takes to be a professional athlete. It helps because he has a good idea of what I go through and we can talk about it.
Tell us about your breakthrough showing at Wimbledon last year.
I was happy with the way I played Wimbledon last year and I'm glad that I had a chance to play someone like Lindsay. But, I'm looking forward to improving on that this year and years to come.
What do you think of American womenís tennis at the moment? Who do you admire most and who has the most potential?
I think there is a good group of young American players ready to break through on the Tour right now and compete with the top players. I think it is just a matter of time for us.
What is your favorite stop on the Tour?
I really like Wimbledon because of all the history there and the overall atmosphere. You get this amazing feeling when you walk through the gates. I also like all of the American events because the fans are always so supportive. A home crowd never hurts.
Braids or no braids?
I would have to say corn-rows, although I like having short hair. Some of my friends tell me it looks like flames since I dyed it red.
Do you have any nicknames?
A lot of people call me J.J. and some call me Jams. In Miami, some fans started calling me Jacks, and I kind of liked it.