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Bones08
06-26-2006, 05:37 PM
Updated: June 26, 2006, 6:18 PM ET
Is Jackson the future of American women's tennis?By Greg Garber
ESPN.com


WIMBLEDON, England -- Zina Garrison, sitting in the comfort of her home in Maryland, laughed into the telephone.


The United States Fed Cup captain was asked, point-blank, whether 19-year-old Jamea Jackson would be a part of the team that would engage Belgium in the July 15-16 semifinals. By way of pleading the Fifth, Garrison opted instead to talk about Jackson's effervescent personality.


Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images
Jamea Jackson clinched the United States' Fed Cup tie in April, beating Germany's Martina Muller.

"I tell her she doesn't have a million-dollar smile," Garrison said. "She has a two-million-dollar smile."


Read into that what you will. For now: America, get ready for Jamea Jackson. And, please, don't say you weren't warned.


There was a time, not very long ago, when American women were a powerful force at the All England Club


For seven consecutive years, before the 2005 event, three or four of the eight quarterfinalists here were U.S. women. The usual suspects were Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, and Monica Seles, with a 1999 semifinals guest appearance by Alexandra Stevenson. Last year, the run ended with only two Americans in the quarters, Davenport and Venus Williams, who met in a rousing final won by Williams in the 9-7 third set.


This year, that quarterfinal quotient is likely to be one -- at best. Venus Williams is the only American woman among 32 seeds (No. 6). On Sunday, Williams took herself out of the Fed Cup running. Davenport withdrew from Wimbledon with a back injury; Serena Williams won't be back from a knee injury until next month; and Capriati and Seles are in the limbo of unannounced retirement.


Which leaves -- whom, exactly?


Although you can make a reasonable case that the next best U.S. women's player is Martina Navratilova, who turns 50 in October, the answer is, emphatically Jackson. Although Jill Craybas and Laura Granville are ranked ahead of her (at Nos. 43 and 57, respectively), Jackson is already No. 58 and rising like a bullet.


She has the goods to be America's next important tennis player; Garrison insists Jackson has top-10 potential.


Early next week, when Garrison announces the Fed Cup team that will play in Ostend, Belgium, Jackson most assuredly will be on it, although Garrison would not confirm that and suggested she might consider changes to the rest of the team that defeated Germany 3-2 in the opening round. Jackson was the leading heroine, beating Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Martina Muller in singles.


She's America's hottest player -- man or woman, having just reached her first WTA Tour final a week ago in Birmingham, England. She defeated four seeded players -- Klara Koukalova, Jelena Jankovic, Elena Likhovtseva and the top seed and two-time defending champion, Maria Sharapova -- before losing in the final to Vera Zvonareva in two tiebreakers.


The win over Sharapova, who was ranked No. 4, compared with Jackson's No. 81, was Jackson's first over a player ranked among the top 10, a significant milestone -- particularly as Sharapova had beaten her in straight sets earlier in the year at Indian Wells, Calif. Like Sharapova and emerging Czech Republic star Nicole Vaidisova, Jackson is a product of Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy, having trained in Bradenton, Fla., since she was 11. Sharapova, who also is 19, started there when she was 9.


"I grew up with Jamea," Sharapova said at the Edgbaston Priory Club. "We played together at Bollettieri's. She has always been a really promising player."


Jackson, apparently, has begun delivery on that promise.


Listed at 5-foot-4, Jackson is one of the shortest players on tour. Just don't call her small. She is solid, equipped with muscular thighs, and built along the lines of her father, Ernie, who played cornerback for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions. She has a complete game, with power from both sides, that seems made for grass.


Jackson has a ludicrous backhand, terrific footwork and an improving forehand. The serve needs a little strength, but Garrison singled out one area that needs a makeover.


"Over there in Germany, all the other girls were talking to her," Garrison said. "We all believe she can be a top-10 player -- but it's a matter of her belief. I think the potential is there. I think she's very, very close to putting herself over the top."


American women in Wimbledon
Name WTA rank
Venus Williams 12
Jill Craybas 43
Laura Granville 57
Jamea Jackson 58
Shenay Perry 62
Meghann Shaughnessy 73
Ashley Harkleroad 76
Amy Frazier 80
Lisa Raymond 84
Vania King 88
Bethanie Mattek 103
Meilen Tu 105
Lilia Osterloh 109
Mashona Washington 120

The critical-mass moment came in February when Jackson decided to replace her father with coach Rodrigo Nascimento after a first-round loss to qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova in Memphis. A stickler for conditioning, Nascimento and a new trainer have helped Jackson make the commitment necessary to succeed at the highest level of tennis.


"She had to make a decision -- all of us had to make a decision at one point in our careers -- do you really want to go for it? It's a tough decision, not working with her father," Garrison said. "She made a change for her life and, ultimately, I think it was the right decision."


On Monday, the daylong rain delay might have come at a good time for Jackson. She was treading water even before her first-round match against Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium was suspended with Jackson serving at love-15 to level the match at 5-all.


The hole could have been far deeper. Flipkens, who won the Wimbledon and U.S. Open junior tournaments and finished the 2003 season as the ITF's No. 1 junior, is a polished young player. Flipkens, 20, had two set points, but lost them by double-faulting and watching a lovely backhand volley by Jackson drop in for a winner. Two poor forehands gave Jackson the game and, after a successful Flipkens lob, the tarpaulin was pulled over soggy Court 6.


The match will resume Tuesday, weather permitting.


Garrison said that Jackson needs a breakthrough performance in a major; Wimbledon's slippery grass surface plays well to her athletic gifts. In her short career, Jackson is 9-4 on the natural stuff.


"She's such a great athlete," Garrison said. "She has her mom's spunky personality and her dad's a good athlete, so she's a good combination of both. She just needs one tournament to knock her over the top."


Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

LowProfile
06-26-2006, 05:51 PM
It is premature to claim her as the next great American hope simply because she got hot one week and took out several top players in succession.

However, her game looks very promising and I expect her to enter and remain firmly within the top 10 once her game matures and her confidence grows.

Great backhand that girl has.

Bones08
06-26-2006, 06:02 PM
It is premature to claim her as the next great American hope simply because she got hot one week and took out several top players in succession.

However, her game looks very promising and I expect her to enter remain firmly within the top 10 once her game matures and her confidence grows.

Great backhand that girl has.

I agree. I like the Backhand, and the court coverage.

Topaz
06-26-2006, 06:50 PM
Great article...thanks for posting!

Bones08
06-26-2006, 07:04 PM
Great article...thanks for posting!

Your Welcome.

Mike Danger
06-26-2006, 10:13 PM
just curious, but how about a picture?

Bones08
06-26-2006, 10:42 PM
http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/sp/getty/oly_full.getty-71013825me002_2006_french_o.jpg

Bones08
06-27-2006, 08:05 AM
She wins her 1st round match 4-6,6-4, 6-1! Now on to play Daniela Hantuchova! Good Luck Jamea!

Mike Danger
06-27-2006, 08:28 AM
http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/sp/getty/oly_full.getty-71013825me002_2006_french_o.jpg

um...:neutral:

Bones08
06-27-2006, 08:46 AM
ESPN, just interviewed her. Great Interview! Chris asked her are the Americans coming, she said yes! She was very energetic! She's so tine, but she has a big game!

Bones08
06-27-2006, 08:46 AM
um...:neutral:

Whats wrong???

Condoleezza
06-27-2006, 08:47 AM
It is premature to claim her as the next great American hope simply because she got hot one week and took out several top players in succession.

However, her game looks very promising and I expect her to enter and remain firmly within the top 10 once her game matures and her confidence grows. ....

She is almost 20 already. And only 5 ft 4.
No chance for top 10, IMO.

Condi

Bones08
06-27-2006, 08:50 AM
She is almost 20 already. And only 5 ft 4.
No chance for top 10, IMO.

Condi

She doesn't play like she's 5"4. Amanda Coetzer ring a bell?

Court_Jester
06-27-2006, 08:57 AM
She doesn't play like she's 5"4. Amanda Coetzer ring a bell?
LOL! That's a name that I haven't heard in a long time! Her physical fitness was unparalleled


CJ

Bones08
06-27-2006, 09:05 AM
LOL! That's a name that I haven't heard in a long time! Her physical fitness was unparalleled


CJ

Very True! She could run for days,hours,and nights! She had a very good attitude toward the game too. I remeber when Lori Mcneil became her coach, and she wanted her too serve and volley(lol).

baseliner
06-27-2006, 09:19 AM
Looking at the list of the top U.S. players really brought to bear the statement "the cupboard is bare!" If not Jackson, who?

Topaz
06-27-2006, 09:39 AM
If not Jackson, then Vania King, Shenae Perry, Liliah Osterloh, Julia Cohen, Bethanie Mattek (who's made a great run at doubles lately)...plenty more. Just because broadcasters aren't shoving them down your throat, doesn't mean they aren't there. Just because they aren't 6ft and blonde, doesn't mean they aren't worth your consideration.

Topaz
06-27-2006, 09:40 AM
Whats wrong???

She isn't 6ft and blonde...that will be a problem for quite a few. Too bad..their loss.

Bones08
06-27-2006, 05:11 PM
J. Jackson Interview - Day 2
Tuesday, 27 June, 2006


Q. What was the key in the second set, getting it turned around?

JAMEA JACKSON: I felt like I just got a lot more aggressive. She plays a game that's great on grass. She's got a great slice. It was staying really low. She was really changing up the paces with her forehand, she was looping some, really hitting some pretty hard.
I just had to get back into the match and play my own game. I think in the first I kind of let her control the match and what she was doing.

Q. Just sort of disappeared in the third set.

JAMEA JACKSON: Yeah, no, uhm, I thought that I kind of got, you know, the momentum and I never let it go. I think I fought for every point. We had some really tough games in there, especially with her serve, she's got a great serve that I was able to pull out. I think that's what made the difference. I think it was a lot closer than the score made it look.

Q. Zina Garrison said the mental part was the last part to come for you.

JAMEA JACKSON: Yes, for sure.

Q. Convince you that you could do this.

JAMEA JACKSON: Yes, for sure. And a lot of people have been telling me that, as well as Zina, as well as Laurie, my coach Rodrigo have been, you know, You can you do this. After Fed Cup, everybody really was like, Jamea, you're up there, you should be winning tournaments, you should be up there with the best players. I think after that point, it kind of started really getting into me that I was good and I deserved to be up there like all the other players.

Q. Played that way out a week ago in Birmingham.

JAMEA JACKSON: Yes, for sure. I played really well last week. I was very pleased with my results there as well. Hope to continue that, you know, here at Wimbledon.

Q. Were there any nerves coming into Wimbledon knowing you had such a great result at Birmingham?

JAMEA JACKSON: Yeah, you know, I don't think it had much to do with Birmingham. I think just any time you come in to play a Grand Slam, there's the nerves that come with that. I think they showed a little bit actually yesterday in my first set yesterday. I think the rain delay actually helped me kind of settle down and get the jitters out. So that was actually great for me.

Q. Do you really believe now you can play with the best players, after hearing it from Zina, Laurie, and your coach? Inside, do you feel you have the game, the mental fortitude?

JAMEA JACKSON: Yeah, hearing it from them really kind of started the ball rolling. Then beating Groenefeld, then last week beating Sharapova, Likhovtseva, and, I think, two other top 30 players, or right outside the top 30 players, really helped me to really start believing in myself and really start going out there with the fact that, you know thinking that my game was good enough to beat these players.

Q. Does that mean going for your shots on court?


JAMEA JACKSON: Yes. Yes, indeed. You know, going out there, me controlling. I mean, I'm shorter than a lot of players, but I'm quicker. I can use that to be aggressive in a different kind of way.

Q. Do you consider yourself to be a bit of a late bloomer at 19? There's a number of elite players who will make it at 16, 17, 18. Do you feel your tennis needed a bit longer to come around?

JAMEA JACKSON: I think yes and no. I mean, there's a lot of players up there who started performing well when they were in their early 20s, for example, Myskina and Molik. They're doing well, and they're kind of in their early 20s. But at the same time, yes, because I was you know, I trained with Tatiana and with Maria down at Bollettieri's for a really long time. My coach has been telling me they've gotten out there and they were more professional than you to begin with, so they've had success earlier in their career. It is kind of where I need to kind of catch up with them.

Q. "More professional," were they more committed at Bollettieri's than you were?

JAMEA JACKSON: I mean that they their priorities were more straight when they were younger. I still went to school. They home schooled. I hung out with my friends. They were focusing on getting their tennis game better. I think my priorities are more in line now with what they need to be to kind of accomplish the goals that I have.

Q. Going to school and hanging out with your friends isn't necessarily a bad thing.

JAMEA JACKSON: No, it's not. But when you're competing with people who are a hundred percent tennis all the time, you're kind of there sometimes, not there sometimes, it's a disadvantage for you.

Q. At what point did you say to yourself, going to school is great, hanging out with friends, but if you want to be a top 20 or top 10 player, you have to be all tennis all the time?

JAMEA JACKSON: I think it's been a progression. I think the great thing about it was my parents were never on me to do anything. I kind of made my own choices. As I've gotten out here and gotten to see more of what people do, gotten with my new coach, he's really showing me what it is to really work hard, what it is to really dedicate yourself to the sport, is when I'm starting to see what I needed to to get to, you know, where I want to go.

Q. You had a very good role model in your dad, the life as a pro athlete. How much did he play into your life this way on the tour giving you advice on how things should be done?

JAMEA JACKSON: He's always been great. From when I was a young kid, he's always been shaping, you know, my mindset and everything, as well as a lot of his buddies who played with him, who I've known while I was growing up and everything. When I got older, he kind of backed off a little bit and let me make my own decisions and stuff, which I think was great, because now I kind of know where I am and what I want for myself. Whenever I need him, he's always there. Any questions I have about the travel or about being away from home for so long, he's always there.

Q. What led to the process of hiring Rodrigo?

JAMEA JACKSON: I was with my old coach. We split ways. My mentor is Betsy Nagelsen McCormack, who has known Rodrigo forever. He was her hitting partner in Orlando when she still played, then he coached her a little bit. I called her looking for my what my next step should be. She was like, This guy, I think he's great. I think you should try him out. That was how we met.

Q. Was it tough letting go of your father? Wasn't he actively involved in the process?

JAMEA JACKSON: Yeah, he was. But he was really cool about it. He was really not a tennis coach. He knows a lot about sport in general. We both kind of agreed for me to go to the next level, I kind of needed somebody who specified and really knew what they were talking about tennis wise.

Q. Zina said the only thing you're missing now is a Grand Slam breakthrough. Can that happen here?

JAMEA JACKSON: I'm really thinking about it. I'm just trying to go out and play every match, play every point, and really fight. If the breakthrough comes here, it will come here.

Q. Has Zina told you you're on the team yet for Fed Cup?

JAMEA JACKSON: No. We haven't actually confirmed that yet, with Venus pulling out yesterday I think and everything. I don't know. You know, I'd love to play. I'd be excited to represent my country again. That would be great.

Q. There's been so many excellent US women players over the years. There's a lot of injuries now. Coming in here it's pretty much Venus and then it's you as the No. 2 player. Have you heard that chatter? What do you think about that?

JAMEA JACKSON: No, I've definitely heard it. But not really paying it too much heed. Just trying to stay focused and do kind of what I have to do. It was really cool actually today, Venus came up and she talked to me. She kind of talked me through things. I was honored, you know, for that. She's awesome. I've always been a huge fan and I still am. But, no, I'm trying to take it one day, one match, one point at a time.

Q. But it's a compliment in a way also?

JAMEA JACKSON: It definitely is. I need to keep working hard to get where I need to go. That's why I'm trying to keep my focus.

Q. Grass seems to favor tall players. How do you counteract the advantages in serve and volley reach that tall players have?

JAMEA JACKSON: Like I said, I think my speed, it's definitely working for me. I have a good slice serve, which the grass actually helps out. I actually think my height actually helps me stay with the lower bounces. It can actually help me a little more than it helps the taller players. I think the grass is really good for my game. I'm hoping to go out there and play (indiscernible) and do well here.

ChipNCharge
06-27-2006, 05:36 PM
I saw this morning's interview with her as well. She's very articulate for a 19 year old.

Bones08
06-27-2006, 05:58 PM
I saw this morning's interview with her as well. She's very articulate for a 19 year old.

Yes, I like the way she answered Chris Fowler's questions!

newnuse
06-27-2006, 06:05 PM
The future of American tennis on the female side is some 10-12 year old we have never heard of. Great female players usually make their splash by 16-17 years old. I don't remember any great players making it big in their early 20's.

Bones08
06-27-2006, 06:07 PM
She's 19 years old!

dmastous
06-27-2006, 06:11 PM
Very True! She could run for days,hours,and nights! She had a very good attitude toward the game too. I remeber when Lori Mcneil became her coach, and she wanted her too serve and volley(lol).
I saw some her match last night, and I was thinking then she has Lori McNeil's hair cut. She reminded me of Lori!
As an aside, the only autograph I've ever gotten from all the tournaments I've gone to was Lori McNeil & Zina Garrison after a doubles match at the Forum in Oakland. The won so I went down and them sign my ticket. :rolleyes:

newnuse
06-27-2006, 06:11 PM
She's 19 years old!

What has she done so far?

Hingis, Williams, Graf..etc were winning GS in their teen years. Some were winning as young as 15.

I heard about the Williams sisters, Capriatti when they were 13-14 years old. They were not great pro's at the time of course, but they had it written all over them, even at that early age.

dmastous
06-27-2006, 06:16 PM
That's not all together true. The landscape has changed due to Capriatti's meltdown after turning pro at 15. There are restrictions on the number of tournaments you can play at that age now. I think it's 4. They can't play a full slate until they are 17 or 18 now. Hingis started the year Capriatti started and the restrictions were just being put place when the William sisters began their pro careers.

newnuse
06-27-2006, 06:23 PM
That's not all together true. The landscape has changed due to Capriatti's meltdown after turning pro at 15. There are restrictions on the number of tournaments you can play at that age now. I think it's 4. They can't play a full slate until they are 17 or 18 now. Hingis started the year Capriatti started and the restrictions were just being put place when the William sisters began their pro careers.


That might be true, but it still doesn't counter my point. You can identify great female players by the time they hit 15-17. I just don't remember anybody that came out of nowhere to become great in their early 20's.

Topaz
06-27-2006, 06:29 PM
Not everyone develops at the same rate, newnuse. It is ridiculous to expect every player to be at the same place at the same time...they are different people after all.

I forgot one more name in my previous list...Alexa Glatch.

Bones08
06-27-2006, 06:48 PM
What has she done so far?

Hingis, Williams, Graf..etc were winning GS in their teen years. Some were winning as young as 15.

I heard about the Williams sisters, Capriatti when they were 13-14 years old. They were not great pro's at the time of course, but they had it written all over them, even at that early age.

You may be right my friend, but let's remeber she played a tournament in Sacramento at age 9, it was the 16's. She won that tournament(7 years her age), and Nick Bolleteri gave her a 1 week stay at the Academy. After 1 week, he gave her a full time scholarship. If you read the Interview, she talks about being at Bolleteri's Academy with Tatiana/Maria. It's a really in depth interview, so you'll learn more. Everyone that knew Jamea, knew she would do good, it was just a matter of when!

newnuse
06-27-2006, 09:27 PM
You may be right my friend, but let's remeber she played a tournament in Sacramento at age 9, it was the 16's. She won that tournament(7 years her age), and Nick Bolleteri gave her a 1 week stay at the Academy. After 1 week, he gave her a full time scholarship. If you read the Interview, she talks about being at Bolleteri's Academy with Tatiana/Maria. It's a really in depth interview, so you'll learn more. Everyone that knew Jamea, knew she would do good, it was just a matter of when!

19 years old, 5'4" tall, currently ranked outside of top 75. She will improved, make top 50, maybe even be a consitent top 20 player.

This is the future of American tennis? That's a pretty bleak future. When I think of the term future of American tennis, I think about the next Venus, Serena, Davenport... etc... I don't think of a possible top 20ish type of player.

She might just become the next Venus, but I think the odds are against that based on the 20 years of tennis I've seen. All the top players I've seen were very good at a younger age.

simi
06-27-2006, 09:32 PM
I saw this morning's interview with her as well. She's very articulate for a 19 year old.

Watched her interview this morning too. Was quite impressed with her attitude and outlook. I hope she goes far and has a successful career.

Bones08
06-27-2006, 10:32 PM
Watched her interview this morning too. Was quite impressed with her attitude and outlook. I hope she goes far and has a successful career.

I agree!

Bones08
06-27-2006, 10:32 PM
19 years old, 5'4" tall, currently ranked outside of top 75. She will improved, make top 50, maybe even be a consitent top 20 player.

This is the future of American tennis? That's a pretty bleak future. When I think of the term future of American tennis, I think about the next Venus, Serena, Davenport... etc... I don't think of a possible top 20ish type of player.

She might just become the next Venus, but I think the odds are against that based on the 20 years of tennis I've seen. All the top players I've seen were very good at a younger age.

She's already ranked 58 coming into Wimbeldon! She's way inside the top 75 my friend!

HyperHorse
06-27-2006, 11:01 PM
Dont you think she's a bit short??
i hope she can get back for the smash, cause @ 5'4,
i bet a lot of players r goin to be lobbing her....

Condoleezza
06-28-2006, 11:11 AM
What has she done so far?

Hingis, Williams, Graf..etc were winning GS in their teen years. Some were winning as young as 15.

I heard about the Williams sisters, Capriatti when they were 13-14 years old. They were not great pro's at the time of course, but they had it written all over them, even at that early age.


Same with Monique Viele ....

Condi