“A win’s a win” may be a common expression in sports, but for WTA Tour veteran player, Vania King, it’s the way she felt about her 7-6 (5) 6-1 win over Alyona Sotnikova of the Ukraine on Sunday during the first round of qualifying at the Tennis Classic of Macon.
While this USTA Pro Circuit women’s event offering $50,0000 in prize money attracts mostly current and former American college players, junior players looking to gain experience and international players looking to rise in the rankings, King is an outlier of sorts in that she’s been ranked in the top-50 in singles and as high as No. 3 in doubles in the WTA rankings during her 10-year professional career. She also has two grand slam women’s doubles titles to her credit by winning the 2010 Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles with Yaroslava Shedova.
So what is King doing in Macon? Call it a comeback if you want as King is on her way back, after missing 12 months with a herniated disc. After finishing the summer playing a couple events, she’s is looking to restart her career in Macon, and each day she is feeling better about her game.
“It’s my second day playing on these courts and yesterday it was hot, but today it’s a little chilly,” admitted the 26-year old who grew up in California. “It really changed the speed of the balls as the balls were getting very heavy. It took me a while to get used to it. I just need to get through the first couple matches and I will get better and better.”
King will be back on the court for another qualifying match on Monday in an event where she admits that she doesn’t know most of the players.
“I love being able to play, but this is not my goal to be playing here. There are all these young ones coming up who haven’t experienced all these milestones. I’m not here to play forever, but I want to get back to the top level.”
King says she plans on playing these Pro Circuit level tournaments for the rest of 2015, but she will use a WTA “protected ranking” for events to start the 2016 campaign. She also has been pain-free once she decided to start playing matches again, but getting in “match shape” is her priority this fall.
“You can never practice for a match. My game is surprisingly fine, but physically I lost all my muscle when I stopped playing. You lose that mental edge. After the (U.S.) Open I was happy with my level as I played two challengers and had two good results there.”
While off the WTA Tour, King gave of her time and energy by assisting a new organization called ACEing Autism, that launches tennis programs across the country for kids with autism. King even got hands on with starting a program where she grew up in Long Beach.
“I am passionate about it,” stated King after her qualifying match victory. “I got involved with them while taking a university course on autism. I thought it would be interesting and saw a post from Richard (Spurling, the founder of ACEing Autism). I volunteered at a couple L.A. area launches and I got a little taste, but I wasn’t there full time and consistently. Long Beach, where I’m from, has about a half million people, (so) I wanted to bring the program there with my name and my skills, using my name for a good cause.”
Those that follow King on social media surely are aware that she is helping promote a Halloween giveaway from her clothing sponsor, Minx-Clothing. Simply follow @minx_clothing on Twitter and post a picture of you playing tennis or in a Halloween costume with the hashtag, #MinxHalloweenGiveaway. Those entering will win a Minx outfit, similar to the one King wears in competition or a signed tennis racket.
With everything King has going on, she has a plan and is focused. That is typically the recipe for good tennis.
“I want to play as many matches as I can without worrying about the results and next year, I’ll use my protected ranking for the WTA events.”