© Tim Hartis
Min is rising up the rankings with outstanding performances on the USTA Pro Circuit.
© Tim Hartis
Grace Min is coming off the strongest month of her career after winning back-to-back USTA Pro Circuit singles titles at the $50,000 event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., and the $25,000 event in Raleigh, N.C. With her results, Min has climbed into the top 200 for the first time in her career, peaking at No. 176 in the world this May.
Last year, Min first broke through by winning the US Open girls’ singles title. She currently trains full-time at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. Min recently took time away from her busy schedule to answer questions for USTA.com.
USTA.com: You have had some of the best results of your career on the USTA Pro Circuit this year. How has your game developed on the USTA Pro Circuit?
Grace Min: My game has developed on the USTA Pro Circuit because it has allowed me to play a lot of matches against tough players. Just by playing matches and being exposed to different situations, I've been able to find what works for me and what doesn't in my game.
USTA.com: What are the benefits for young players like you to be competing on the USTA Pro Circuit?
Grace Min: The USTA Pro Circuit is a great stepping stone for juniors trying to transition into the pros. It provides small steps so young players aren't overwhelmed with what they want to accomplish. I started out playing $10,000 events, then slowly moved into the higher prize money tournaments when I felt I was ready to compete at the next level.
USTA.com: What is your favorite part about playing on the USTA Pro Circuit?
Grace Min: My favorite part is traveling to the cities they take place in. They always seem to be in a nice community that really embraces the tournament and appreciates the level of tennis being played. It makes playing matches more intimate and the overall stay more welcoming.
USTA.com: Describe a funny experience you recently had while competing on the USTA Pro Circuit.
Grace Min: At the $25,000 event in Clearwater, Allie Kiick, Samantha Crawford and I got henna tattoos at a surf shop by the beach. It was our first time getting hennas, so naturally, we chose the designs as if our lives depended on it. I was the last one to get it. I went with a dove and olive branch on the back of my neck. After an unsuccessful attempt, the guy got it right the second time around.
For those who don't know about henna tattoos, you have to wait a few hours before you peel the ink off. It doesn't show up on the skin for another few hours after that. Allie and I were especially anxious to get it off, so we scratched at it 'til it was gone. The next day, black ink was all over our fingers! The ink had stained while we were trying to get it off. It looked like we had way too much fun with a black sharpie. Even worse, the guy's mistake showed up underneath the real design! AND it only lasted six days, not the three weeks promised. Oddly, I did feel slightly more empowered for those six days, I won't deny that.
USTA.com: You are coached by USTA Player Development and train full-time at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton. What is it like living there, and how has the program helped your game?
Grace Min: There's not much more you could ask for. It's hard to be away from home, no matter where I am, but the people I'm surrounded by in Boca make it like a second home. It's such a motivating and positive environment to not only train in but to live in. All the coaches and staff members work really hard to help the players, and it's great to be amongst a group of players who constantly motivate each other. The program itself has helped me develop my game in different stages to fully understand the style of tennis I need to play to be successful.
USTA.com: You won the girls' US Open singles title last year. What was your favorite part about playing there?
Grace Min: My favorite part about playing at the US Open was just being able to play on the grounds of Flushing. It's such a thrilling, adrenaline-rushing experience, all you want to do after a match is play again. By the time the tournament ended, I was obviously elated but also a little sad because I wasn't sure what to do with myself. I wanted to stay in New York and make the Open last as long as possible.
USTA.com: What are your goals for the remainder of 2012?
Grace Min: To keep improving. I don't like to cap improvement goals with numbers because it can make you lose perspective on the improvement. I've had a positive start to the year, so I'd like to keep building off of it and see where it takes me.
USTA.com: When you are not competing, what do you like to do? Have you done anything fun off-the-court recently?
Grace Min: I like anything active. My brother and I went rock climbing recently when I was home. On the contrary, I also cherish doing nothing on days I'm not playing. I can sit on the couch, pick a show to catch up on and literally sit there for hours. A bit of both never hurts!