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USTA: Five Questions With... Mashona Washington

Sunday, February 22, 2009

MIDLAND, Mich. -- Mashona Washington, who will turn 33 in May, says she has played her last lower-level prize money USTA Pro Circuit event.

Her doubles rankings is in the 115s in the world, and she lost in the quarterfinals at the recent $75,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich., where she lost in the final round of qualifying in singles.

USTA.com caught up with Mashona at the Childhelp Desert Classic in Rancho Mirage earlier this month after a semifinal doubles loss in the $25,000 event.

USTA.com: Do you still have the drive and desire to play high-level pro tennis?

Mashona Washington: Yeah, I do. I got off to kind of a slow start this year, but I trained real hard all of December. This is the last $25,000 I’ll ever play in my life. It’s just such a grind. The money is horrible, and the points are terrible. It’s just not worth it. I wish they would add a few more $50,000 or $75,000 events. At this point in my career, I would just as soon go train for two weeks than go out there and spend the money to make the semifinals of a doubles tournament and make $196. If I hadn’t already made some money during my career, I wouldn’t be here.

USTA.com: So hitting the top 50 in the world like you did in 2004 is the reason you’re still out here?

Mashona Washington: Yeah, I think so. I’m glad I played well when I did. I still play because I love it, and I feel I still have a lot of good tennis left in me. For me, it’s just going to be a matter of waking up and saying, “OK, I don’t want to play any more.” And that day hasn’t come yet.

USTA.com: What will you do once your pro career does end?

Mashona Washington: I have a lot of options. I have my college degree (obtained online), and I have my real estate license. I mean, I don’t want to have to get a 9 to 5 job until I have to, so why wouldn’t I travel the world and play tennis and kind of live that abnormal life as long as I can and my body and mind will let me? But I see myself maybe working my brother's (MalVai’s) foundation. Maybe doing some TV commentating or other behind-the-scenes work in tennis. I can always coach. I’ve been out here long enough where I think I can offer some valuable information to the younger players. And you never know, maybe marriage and kids are in the picture somewhere.

USTA.com: Who were your role models growing up?

Mashona Washington: I didn’t really have any growing up. My parents, I guess. My dad always told me I should be my own individual.

USTA.com: What does having Barack Obama as the new U.S. president mean to you?

Mashona Washington: It was an amazing event. I followed it since he said he was running. I voted for him and was glued to the TV. It was just an amazing thing. I guess if I had to say I looked up to anyone it would be Michelle Obama. She’s just such an awesome person. Her husband is now the commander in chief, and she has kids. He always says she’s the rock and can be a role model for a lot of people. It’s an awesome thing. I was proud to be black at that moment. But I’ve always been proud; proud of where I came from and my heritage. People like Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson paved the way for so many minorities to succeed and to just come and play this game. I look at Venus and Serena and know how important it is that they are role models to so many kids. They see them, and they know it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your background is. Hard work is going to get you there.

Photo by Mashona Washington

Posted by Shelia

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