Great news on Mashona...
Washington's patience is rewarded
Pilot Pen win over Sharapova biggest of career
By DALE ROBERTSON
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
If Maria Sharapova defines precociousness, the woman who defeated her in the Pilot Pen tournament this week, Mashona Washington, defines just the opposite. Patience. Resilience. Determination. There's definitely no quit in Mashona.
Washington's ninth season as a touring pro has been her best. The 28-year-old, Michigan-born, Houston-based pro — one of 1996 Wimbledon runner-up MaliVai Washington's kid sisters — is in the WTA's top 100 for the first time. At Wimbledon, she was probably as excited to win her first match there as Sharapova was to win the title.
"I played out of my mind," Washington said of her 6-2, 6-1 victory over Indonesia's Angelique Widjaja. "I was better than I was against Maria (whom she beat 6-3, 2-6, 6-2). But, because of her ranking, that was my best win. You don't think about her age."
Washington had to qualify for Wimbledon, but she's high enough now herself — 81st — to have gained direct entry into the U.S. Open. She plays a qualifier in the first round, but her quarter of the draw includes French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and the streaking Lindsay Davenport.
Washington will take her chances.
"I'm getting my whole game together," she said. "My mind is good, and I'm fit and strong. I'm 110 percent prepared, fully focused on what I need to do. It's taken awhile to put it all together, but I'm playing some pretty solid tennis. I've got a lot of belief in my game."
She gives much credit to her coach, Lillian Rios, and a supportive environment at Westside Tennis Club.
"That's my second home," she said. "The McIngvales (owners Jim and Linda) have been wonderful to me."
Washington made the final of a top-echelon USTA Pro Series tournament in Raleigh, N.C., in early May, her second runner-up finish of the year on that circuit. She also reached the doubles semis in the WTA tournament in Memphis.
It's a start, late or not.