SACHIA VICKERY is an ambitious young American who has dreams of emulating Serena Williams.
But while father Richard is the famous driving force behind the Williams’ sisters world domination, for 17-year-old Sachia mum’s the word.
Paula Liverpool is a driven mother who has made numerous sacrifices to help fund her daughter’s rise up the world tennis rankings.
And the latest reward is experience of an international tournament, coincidentally bearing her mother’s maiden name . . . the Liverpool International.
“What she has done for me is inspiring,” Vickery said. “It’s helped me to grow stronger as a person. When you’re not used to getting everything easily, you fight harder for it. Every time I go on the court, my mentality is, fight, fight, fight. It’s helped me, so I’ll never complain.”
Vickery is a fast-rising 385 in the women’s rankings, funded by the uncommon dedication of mum Paula, who worked two jobs so that her daughter could continue to play.
Their story was featured last year in the New York Times.
The newspaper highlighted Sachia’s 12-hour greyhound bus rides from Miami to Alanta to train, her dedication to a career in tennis – and the sleazy, occasionally dangerous job mum Paula agreed to in order to fund her daughter’s tennis education.
“Sometimes, for the love of your child, you do things you never, ever thought you would do,” Liverpool said.
She was offered a job bar tending at Club Rolexx, a so-called gentleman’s club in Miami, from the part owner Carl Cruise.
She was always fully clothed, but had to endure leering men, loud music and occasional gunplay.
“The first time I walked in there, I walked right out,” Liverpool recalled. “I said: ‘Carl, are you crazy? I have two degrees. I’m not going to work in there.’ It was something I was totally opposed to. But I needed the money so I just kept my eyes closed and did my job. Sometimes, things that are the opposite of what you believe in morally, you have to do for your children.”
At first, Vickery did not know what her mother’s job entailed.
When she found out, she pleaded with her to stop, concerned about the crude atmosphere and potential for violence.
“I was really scared because it’s in a really bad area in downtown Miami, and she said a few times they had shootouts there,” Vickery said. “So, every time she left I was so scared, at night. I was just praying. I told her to stop, but she said: ‘I have no choice. Right now, that’s what I have to do until otherwise.’ ”
Even with the extra income, it was a struggle. While many of Vickery’s contemporaries were driven to country club lessons or flown to tournaments, Vickery rode 12 hours on a bus from Miami to Atlanta. It was annoying and perhaps embarrassing, but it made her hungrier.
“She would ask why she had to take the Greyhound bus,” Liverpool said. “I told her, ‘All the other kids are going to get there in their planes and their Lamborghinis, and you are going to kill them all.’”
As she gained more notice, Vickery spent a year at the I.M.G. Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, before again breaking the mould.
She spent the last two years at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France, where few American players go to train. Her mother finally quit the strip club, and she and coach Otis Johnson – who had largely coached Vickery for free – joined her in France.
Her progress up the rankings since then has been steady – and this week she will add to her experience on the grass courts of Calderstones Park at the Liverpool International.
Sachia is the most interesting name in the ladies section of the tournament, which also includes Croatian Ana Konjuh and local talent Chloe Murphy.
The men’s event is headlined by giant South African Kevin Anderson, currently ranked 30 in the world and aiming to add to his grass court expertise ahead of Wimbledon next week.
The legends’ line up contains a host of familiar names – former Wimbledon champions Richard Krajicek and Virginia Wade, British stars Greg Rusedski and Barry Cowan, Anders Jarryd and Peter Fleming and, of course, the irrepressible Mansour Bahrami.
Tickets are available for the event (Thurs- day-Sunday) at www.liverpooltennis.co.uk
Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust (LCH) is partnering with the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament 2012, to help promote healthy living.
Members of staff from LCH will be on site at the tournament to offer health information and advice to members of the public attending the event.
The team will also be talking to people about the benefits of becoming a member of Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, and encouraging people to sign up.