Vania King weathers the storm
PARIS -- If you had asked Vania King in 2008 if she'd make the French Open third round in three years, she would've told you absolutely not. That's because back then, she was disillusioned and ready to quit playing.
"I think every player goes through a hard time, and I was at a point in my life where I didn't want to play for myself," said King, 22, after earning passage to the third round with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Elena Baltacha on Thursday. "My dad was coaching me for a long time and was pushing me a lot. My parents were pushing me to play."
At the end of 2008, King decided to move away from California. She went to South Florida to train with Tarik Benhabiles, Andy Roddick's junior coach, and has happily remained there.
The 115th-ranked King insists that singles is her priority, but she's really making her mark in doubles. She partnered with Yaroslava Shvedova to win the 2010 Wimbledon and U.S. Open doubles titles.
"In the last few years, I've started to come to terms with how much I really do love tennis and enjoy playing," she said. "As a kid, you don't always know what you want in life."
Most players look forward to returning to a tournament where they're the defending champions.
Mardy Fish, the defending champion of July's Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, is actually hoping to send his regrets to the tournament this year.
The 10th-ranked Fish is signed up to play in Newport, R.I., but is banking on an invitation from U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier to play in the quarterfinal round against Spain. The Davis Cup tie takes place in Austin, Texas, from July 8-10, which coincides with the Newport dates.
"Well, I hope to be at Davis Cup, obviously," said Fish, after his 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6- 1 second-round win over Robin Haase. "Newport was a lot of fun last year, but Davis Cup is where my priorities are."
Fish alerted the Newport folks of his potential conflict, which came as no surprise to the tournament organizers.
"Mardy is currently our top seed, but we fully expect him to play Davis Cup in Austin, should he get the call from Jim," tournament director Mark Stenning wrote in an email.
Fish also is hoping his Davis Cup teammate Andy Roddick will throw a big party at his new home in Austin during the Davis Cup tie. "I'm expecting him to have one. It's going to be fun."
Sometimes you just can't break with tradition, especially if you're a tad superstitious.
At Miami's Sony Ericsson Open in March, Andrea Petkovic insisted it would be the last tournament where she would perform her trademark postmatch dance after wins.
Since then, the 12th-ranked Petkovic has had a change of heart.
"I said I wanted to stop dancing, and it's not a real dance anymore," said Petkovic, following her 7-6 (2), 6-2 second-round win over Lucie Hradecka. "But after I stopped, I lost two times in the second round, and I played the most horrible tennis of my life, probably."
Needless to say, the Petko Dance has returned. However, for the sake of variety, she's hoofing something new.
"In Strasbourg [France], because I think it fits for clay, [it was] the moonwalk, and I brought it in, and I won the tournament," she said. "And I'm here in the third round, so I think it's going well. I have to keep it up."