Both girls play on their high school tennis team at Palm Desert High. In fact, Desirae won her first professional level match this past February, playing doubles with Coco Vandeweghe at the Childhelp Desert Classic. Is she a future WTA Tour player? “I’m workin’ on it,” she laughed, “but we’ll see how it goes.”
A Djokovic and Ivanovic fan, Desirae grew up around tennis and was encouraged by her father to learn more about the sport by volunteering as a ballgirl. For Haley, it also runs in the family: her older brother was a ballboy here when the tournament was sponsored by Adidas.
Maria Sharapova, however, ran into problems not only caused by her opponent, Jie Zheng, but also by her elbow. “I just felt like I couldn’t really extend it all the way. It was a little stuck,” she explained. While the elbow required a medical time-out, there was no break from Zheng’s baseline attack. “She’s like a ball machine,” remarked Sharapova.
The life of a tennis player is one that is forever in flux. Whether it’s a veteran or a new kid on the block, the highs and lows of a career in the sport leave no one untouched. For fans and athletes alike, this is what makes the sport endlessly fascinating and enormously frustrating. And it can all change at the drop of a hat.
Just ask Svetlana Kuznetsova. She entered this year’s tournament as the No. 1 seed but her shocking three-set, second round loss to Carla Suarez Navarro today had her tossing her racquet in anger. “I feel great. I do practice, play unbelievable and then get to the match and I don’t do much,” she explained afterward.