Billed as the next American tennis star when she turned pro in 2000, the 22-year-old, who lives in Wesley Chapel, Fla., reached No. 39 on the WTA Tour in 2003 and is currently No. 89. Harkleroad is the defending champion and No. 1 seed at the San Francisco Tennis Classic, a USTA event that runs through Sunday at Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club.
Why play in smaller events like this one? Actually, I was supposed to go to Asia and play in four or five main draws there. But I had a shoulder injury and decided to rest and play the smaller events in the States. I like it here and have friends here and knew it would be a good tournament to go back to.
With all of the events around the world, how tough is the travel in tennis? It’s not really that tough. Basically, your life is traveling. At the same time, I don’t like to fly and that’s one reason I didn’t want to go to Asia. It would have been a 22-hour flight. But you know, that comes with the job. I’ve been doing it since I was 12 years old.
What will it take for you to win your first WTA title? I think it’s going to take time. I’m getting better as I get older. I’m more stable and relaxed. The younger you are, the more you think about your future. I just think over time.
How high in the rankings do you think you can get? I think I can get into the top 50 again. I play a lot of exhibitions and I make more money playing exhibitions, but that hurt me a little bit this year [in terms of points for the rankings]. I played in 21, 22 events, while most play in 28 or 29. If I played in that many, I would be ranked higher. Next year, I’m going to cut down on the exhibitions.
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