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Dothan trip well worth it for 17-year-old Kenya Jones

Kenya_Jones

Article provided by DothanEagle.com 

Kenya Jones plans to be back in the classroom at White Station High School in Memphis this morning, likely making up a few missed tests.

The trip to Dothan for the 17-year-old, however, was well worth the effort even if it didn’t last quite as long as she had hoped.

 

Jones won for the first time against a professional tennis player Sunday during the opening day of the qualifying rounds for the Hardee’s Pro Classic at the Westgate Tennis Center, defeating Emily Harman 7-6, 6-4.

On Monday, she dropped a 6-2, 6-3 decision to Elizaveta Ianchuk of Ukraine, which meant it was time to pack up and head back to her hometown.

“It’s very tough because tennis is actually a sport that’s kind of made for girls that are home-schooled with all these week-long tournaments,” Jones said. “Whenever I get a chance to play in a pro tournament like this, of course, I take it because I got a wild card. But it’s definitely hard trying to juggle all of it.

“They (teachers) know I play, so they’re really supportive, and they work with me. I think I missed a couple of tests today (Monday), so I’ll just make them up when I get back.”

Jones comes from a tennis family.

Her father, Keita Jones, was a tennis player at Jackson State (Miss.) University and is now a tennis instructor. Her sister, Kayla Jones, is the No. 1 singles player at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga as a junior.

“My dad is actually my coach, so I started playing when I was about 4,” Kenya said. “This is only my third pro tournament and actually won my first qualifying match yesterday (Sunday), so I was pretty happy. It was just a great experience.”

She played in her first two professional tournaments two years ago – one in Jackson, Miss., and the other in Pelham.

“It didn’t go very well,” she said of the first pro match. “I think I dropped my match 6-0, 6-1. I was kind of nervous.

“But it was cool just playing against adults. She (opponent) even came up to us and talked after the match and said, ‘It’s OK, you’re young,’ and all that kind of stuff.’’’

Jones is keeping her amateur status on the pro circuit, and the high school junior hopes to play tennis on the college level like her sister.

Her father said getting experience on the USTA pro circuit when possible should be helpful in trying to earn a college scholarship.

“We’re just kind of getting ready for college, and I thought one good way to do that was to play these type of tournaments to get more experience,” Keita said.

“I’m a tennis instructor, so she plays tennis with me most of the time or kids we coach, or guys in the area and that type of thing.”

Keita said sometimes it’s a tough juggling act in the role of both coach and father.

“That’s very difficult sometimes, but at the end of the day I just think with certain little things, like extra training, I can probably push her harder,” he said.

“And we’ve been through it with another daughter already, so when she gets to college they’ll take care of some of the other things, and I think her game will probably get even better then.

“My main goal for these (pro tournaments) is just to get experience. If she does well, that’s good. If she doesn’t, it’s still not the end of the world.”

In other qualifying matches on Monday, Petra Rampre defeated Marie Norris 6-3, 7-5, Jessica Moore defeated Keri Wong 6-1, 6-1, Erica Oosterhout def. Alexander Mueller 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, Jacqueline Cako def. Chiara Scholl 6-3, 7-6, Vojislava Lukic def. Jennifer Elie 6-4, 6-1, Michaela Gordon def. Storm Sanders 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 and Katerina Kramperova def. Kaitlyn McCarthy 5-2 (retired-injury).

Matches continue Tuesday morning beginning at 10 a.m. There will be two feature matches Tuesday night starting at 6.

Admission for the day session is $2 and for the night session is $3.

 

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