Thursday, January 31, 2008
In the summer of 2005 Angela Haynes played Serena Williams in the third round of the Wimbledon Championships and came within a point of defeating her. It appeared that then 21-year old Angela would be one of the next big things to happen to women's tennis. Unfortunately, just a few months later, tragedy struck the Haynes family and took it's toll on Angela.
In late September, just a few days before Angela's birthday, her older brother Dontia died in a San Diego hospital from head injuries sustained when his motorcycle struck a car that had pulled out in front of him.
Angela was very close to her brother, who also played tennis. "We were like twins,'' Haynes said at the time. "If you saw me, you saw my brother. He was graduating this year and he was going to come out and be my hitter. … We talked about playing mixed doubles."
Angela dropped out of competition for a while thereafter, and is now working hard to return to the WTA Tour. She is currently ranked at 201, but was once ranked as high as 90.
In Arizona Republic, Arizona, at the the Coca-Cola Future Stars Tournament being held at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex, Angela, now 23, reached the final where she played Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria and was defeated 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
"On this tour, it's all about points," she said. "You earn points on finishes, and points relate to world rankings. Tennis works on points, and right now, I need about 150 points to move to where I want to be."
Last year on this circuit, Haynes finished fifth among money winners, and earned $31,193, including winning four doubles titles.
"It gets very expensive to remain on tour," she added. "If you lose in the opening round of a major, you get $25,000, so that's the aim. We're all shooting to play in a major."
Haynes now splits her time between Los Angeles, where she lives, and Phoenix, where she practices with her coaches James Jack and Anne Smith. From Surprise, she said, she's off to Hawaii. By the end of the summer, she hopes to be in New York and the U. S. Open.
"You might say the road to the U.S. Open starts in Surprise," Williams said. "This tour is the starting point, the launching pad for future players. We want people in Surprise and the community to come to this event and say, 'I saw that player when she first started. Now, she's the winner of a Grand Slam event."