Vania King has had an outstanding career since turning pro in July 2006, winning one WTA Tour singles title and seven doubles titles, including the Brisbane doubles championship in January. A 20-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., King is writing an exclusive blog for USTA.com throughout the year as she travels to different tournaments around the world. This week, she is in Rome for the first time in her career.
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She will be answering questions from fans in her daily blogs and would love to hear from you . Please keep in mind, however, that due to her busy playing schedule she does not have time to answer all questions.
Monday, May 4
Well, I'm finally writing from beautiful Rome. Unfortunately, it's just practice days left for me! I qualified, but lost yesterday in the first round of main draw. However, I did get to do some sightseeing today -- we went to see the Vatican, Colosseum, Pantheon, Fountain of Trevi and many other architectural wonders. (I've attached some photos.)
Regarding my tennis, I feel like I've improved a lot on clay. However, there is still a lot of work to do, and much of it is mental. Or so my coach says.
We are leaving for Madrid on Wednesday, and I must say that I will be sorry to go. I had a great time, and the people here were very nice. I'm so tired right now because, in the morning, I had a really hard fitness session, and then we walked for around six hours, so I hope I don't fall asleep writing!
Anyways, in Madrid, I am still seven out of the qualifying draw, so I am hoping that when I sign in, I will have moved in.
I wrote my feelings in response to an article written awhile back (I wrote it in Charleston actually -- see below), and I am very glad to be able to post it now!!
So now, I must bid you adieu,
A friend of mine, Shenay Perry, recently told me about an article in Inside Tennis magazine about the decline of American tennis. I had seen the article and just glanced through it quickly. However, when she told me that they had mentioned names, including mine and hers, I took another look at it, and I felt that while it is fine to mention names and state opinions, there were some statements that were unfairly broad and assuming. So I wanted to go over these and state what I thought.
First, about what renowned sports psychologist Jim Loehr (who I went to personally), said, "...Roddick is an exception (to the other American players) because he had the proper parenting and didn’t receive free emotional handouts." I think that is a very specific statement, one that may be true in Roddick's case. However, Loehr doesn't know the backgrounds of the other Americans. How should he assume that we weren't brought up with the same values, that we received "emotional handouts?" I'm not just speaking for myself but for the other players because I don't even know their upbringings.
As I read further, I noted what Jose Higueras said about the American style. I understand and wholly support the new USTA system, and think they are doing a great job of bringing up the next generation of players. One thing I admire is that they are starting to train the players on clay, and it's really paying off. I think there are a lot of really good young Americans coming up.
I go back to what Loehr writes,"You can still make it if you’re affluent or middle class, if you have parents who are connected and understand hard work and don’t try to buy their way into the finals… Not enough parents understand how to create the right conditions at home.”
I consider myself in a "middle class" home. However, we were not always that way. I was the only child in my family fortunate enough to grow up in a "middle class" environment. My mother and father emigrated to the United States almost 30 years ago with no money -- my mom had to sell the house her parents gave her as a wedding gift to pay for them to come here. My mom had to leave my brother, who was 1 1/2 years old, in Taiwan because they could not afford to bring him. She cried every day without him -- how great is the pain of being separated from your child! Nothing is black and white, and it is unfair to categorize everyone in a broad spectrum.
I want to point out that I believe that even if you do everything "right" or work as hard as you can, have the best coaches, never get injured, you still have a very slim chance of "making it." You definitely need a bit of luck, and sometimes it's just luck.
The last point I want to make is that the writer of the article (or Loehr) states that even with talent, sometimes the player can't financially afford to pay for expenses, and that's where the USTA or outside sources come in. I have to say that, again, it is only a few who "make it" and a few who really get all the help they need. Most get nothing, and some get something. It is hard to determine whether players who are 13 to 17 years old are going to "make it," and there are a lot of talented kids out there.
Anyways, I just wanted to express my feelings on these points because some of the statements were unfair -- not just to me but to all the players mentioned and not mentioned.
Sunday, April 26
So I was looking on the live scoring, USA vs. Czech Republic, and it was down to the final rubber, and whoever won the doubles would clinch it! First, I gotta say, Alexa, you are amazing! I'm so proud of her :)) Unfortunately, during the middle of the second set, I went to get a massage, so I missed the rest, but when I came back -- we won!! Apparently they were down, 6-2, 5-2, and match point but came back! I'm so happy for the USA team :)
In other news, I had a grueling week training, and I don't know whether it was tougher for me or for my coach. Every time I had to come back from a tough day I was really moody, and I know I made it tough on him! I'm excited to go to Europe, if only to get away from the mosquitoes here! I'm leaving tomorrow, so I will arrive in Rome on Tuesday.
I sent almost 40 pounds home because my luggage was too heavy (and in Europe they are very strict on the weight!), but I'm afraid that I still will be overweight. I really did cut about half of my clothes, but with all the lotions and creams and sprays that I have, it adds about 20 more pounds.
Huh, I think there was a lot more that I was going to say, but unfortunately, I forgot it. So, I'll leave it at that! I'm going to the beach now, because today is my day off!!
Tuesday, April 21
So I've left beautiful, beautiful Charleston (actually, more like Isle of Palms because that's where I stayed) and am in Miami Beach... just a little bit dirtier and sleazier. Just a tad.
I was given a parting gift from Charleston -- more bug bites -- and I've been in Miami for three days and have received my welcoming gift -- 13 more bug bites. Ughh. I'm a little bit frightened to get into the shower because I know that it will itch like crazy. Some of the bites are really swollen, about an inch in diameter. I know you guys are really interested in knowing.
The last couple of days I've been busy writing an article for ESPN, so hopefully it turns out well! I was staying at my Coach Erwann's apartment on an air mattress in the living room. I'm a high roller, I tell you. I am by no means ungrateful because, if I were not able to stay there, I probably would have been sent to the homeless shelter. And Erwann's wife, Jenn, is an amazing cook. He is a very lucky man, and I think he knows :)
So I'm going to train this week in Florida and then head out to Rome, where I've never been, so I'm very excited. Also because my coach can speak Italian (and French and Spanish), so I don't have to say a word. Yesss!! I will learn to be mute in Europe. He says I will love Europe, but I remain sadly unconvinced... maybe because most of the tournaments I play there are on clay. However, I (we) have really been working on my sliding and movement, much to the pain of my legs, so hopefully by the time I hit the red clay, I will be able to take only one step after the wide balls, instead of three like last year.
I took the weekend off, which was great, and basically slept through most of it. I practiced yesterday, my first time practicing four hours with some fitness after in about two months. Today it rained most of the day (welcome to Florida), so we were unable to practice because the courts were too wet. We went to the track this morning, but after seven 100 meters, I felt sick to my stomach, so I took a break. Lucky for me, I got to go back to the track to finish the five 100 meters that I didn't finish in the morning, and then some more fitness but in a shorter area -- much, much easier. Even if I looked like I was dying.
So Elijah asks:
What did you do for tennis as a junior? How much did you play? What was a typical day like for you?
So. I'm assuming that what I "did for tennis" means question two and three. So, when I was younger, I played three to six hours a day. However, my dad coached me, and he had no tennis background, so much of my practicing was being fed balls, and balls that were not moving very fast. So I never really started fitness until I was around 13! Nowadays, in the off weeks (training), I practice around four hours and between half an hour to an hour and a half of fitness, five days a week. Saturdays I do a half day, just a morning session, and Sundays off. When I was a junior, I was still going to public school, so I would practice after school at the local park from around 3 p.m. to whenever the sun set. In the summer was when I practiced long hours with my sisters; however, we spent many of those hours eating, telling stories, and untying the net ropes.
So I'll let you guys know how my bites are holding up -- if it continues this way, I will be just a swollen mass! Eww, gross, thinking about it.
Read Vania's past blogs:
Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C.
Back home in California
Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla.
BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
Monterrey Open in Monterrey, Mexico
Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup in Memphis, Tenn.
Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich.