At 22-years-old Sachia Vickery might not quite yet have the world at her feet but she does most certainly have her tennis future in her more than capable hands. She is coming off of one of the biggest victories of her fledgling professional career and, as they say, the sky’s the limit.
Not that it was always this way. Vickery, ranked 105 in the world by the World Tennis Association (WTA) credits hard work for her recent success and her climb up the world rankings.
“I think so far this year has been a really good start of the year for me. I’m just about breaking into the top 100 so that’ll be a really big goal of mine.
“My career so far has been a lot of progress and you know working a lot on my game and improvement but I’ve seen really, really good results from midway through last year up until now so obviously I’ve been putting a lot of hard work in and doing well.”
Born to Paula Liverpool and Rawle Vickery, Sachia has sport in her genes.
Her mother was an athlete, her father a soccer player and her uncle, Carl Liverpool, a junior table tennis champion in Berbice.
But their careers in sport pale in comparison with Sachia’s, who was once the number-one ranked junior tennis player in America.
Though she is an American by birth, Sachia is a Guyanese at heart and on a recent visit to the land of her parents’ birth, she spoke of the possibility of one day representing Guyana.
Lawn tennis in Guyana is not what it was in the days past when Guyana and Trinidad engaged in fierce rivalry in the Brandon and Phillips competitions.
In fact, Guyana produced its fair number of star players in Edmund Prass, Kayyam Naj, Leon December, Andy Wong, Diwani Lewis, Dr. Kean Gibson, Debbie Bunbury and Shelly Daly Ramdyhan to name a few.
Before Vickery Dr. Ian Mc Donald who played at Wimbledon and who represented Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago was the brightest star the sport had produced.
Now that honour rests with Vickery who told this newspaper that her goal is to become the number one player in the world eventually.
Her immediate goal however, is to be in the top 100 in the world.
“I’m already a few spots away. I’m 105 now so that’s just my first goal and then after that it’ll be breaking into the top 50, the top 20 and so on… but right now I just want to focus on getting into the top 100 so I’m in the main draw of all the Grand Slams and I don’t have to play qualifying just to make it a lot easier.”
Asked the reasons for her success this year, Vickery told Stabroek Sports that she has now acquired a fitness trainer adding that she is practices a lot.
”A lot of practice, I’ve been putting in like extra hours on the tennis court and now I’m a bit more serious with my fitness and nutrition and now I have a fitness trainer fulltime so that makes it a lot easier. That’s probably the main change that I’ve made in my career so far.
Asked to elaborate on her training for the young players who wanted to follow in her footsteps Vickery added…“Pretty much I do everything all round I do running, cardio, a lot of tennis specific movement drills, you know side-to-side `cuz tennis is more split step and quick movement as opposed to just running a lot and doing cardio.”
Vickery, who lives in Miramar, Florida said she trains in Miami.
“I train out of Miami and at my own coach and sometimes I go up to the USTA (United States Tennis Association) where all the top players train. “Sometimes I do my work there and most of the time I’m travelling to tournaments so I don’t have that much time at home.
Asked how important was winning the US national junior championships to her career Vickery replied…”Probably one of the biggest wins of my career just because it gave me an opportunity to play in the main draw of the US Open then I got my first Grand Slam win so that was probably the biggest confidence booster for me and one of the most important wins to my career.”
Vickery might have been lost the tennis world were it not for another Guyanese Kashif Muhammad whose administrative skills at another discipline, football, are legendary.
“Kashif, when he came to Miami, he was the one that suggest to my Mom that I should play tennis. I was about six or seven so if it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be playing.”
Asked what was the biggest win of her career so far Vickery highlighted her defeat of Agnieszka Radwanska whom she defeated earlier this year in New Zealand.
“Probably just a few weeks ago when I beat Radwanska in Auckland and then I was really close against Wozniacki (Caroline) but I had to play the two matches in one day and I was feeling it a little bit physically but definitely the Radwanska match was the best win of my career.”
The average day for Vickery is pretty long. She usually wakes up at around 8am or 9am, then she heads to the Court where she usually has a fitness session.
“Sometimes I have two fitness and two tennis sessions,” she declared.
A week or two before the tournaments you put in a little heavier work because you have more time to recover. The days before you play the match it is important that you start taking the level down because you want to be 100 per cent for the match, you don’t want to be physically tired, so that’s really important to manage and balance. Tennis you burn so many calories that you can’t just look at eating healthy you have to eat like carbohydrates and fats because you burn too many calories that you need to restore.
She moves well on the court and so its no surprise that Sachia thinks that movement is her biggest strength.
“I think my movement is my biggest strength, the way I see the ball and the way I read the game. I’ve worked a lot on my serve as well so that’s becoming a bigger weapon for me and then definitely I think my backhand would be my stronger side.”
Of course, Vickery is not content to let the recent success get to her head and become and has acknowledged that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“There always room for improvement no matter what level you’re at. Obviously I still have a lot to improve, you know I’m still not at the peak of my career yet, I’m pretty much just at the beginning,” she said.
The life of a professional tennis player is pretty hectic and so one is not surprised to find that Vickery does not party too often and would much rather spend quality time with her family.
“I just like to spend time with my family, I listen all kinds of music, rap music, hip hop R&B pretty much everything, “she said adding…”I don’t really have much