As we continue to look at the development of the Asian tennis player we look at one particular player; Zheng Jie. Our continuation into the Asian tennis development has brought us to a player from Sichuan Province of China. A place that overcame the devastation of an earthquake in 2008 with the help of people like Zheng Jie. She donated her winnings from Wimbledon to help her hometown.
Zheng Jie was born July 5, 1983 in Chengdu, Sichuan, People’s Republic of China. She played her first professional tournament in 2000 and turned pro in 2003. Three years later she became the first Chinese player to win a Wimbledon title in 2006. A year later in 2007 she injured her ankle in the French Open to sit her out for the rest of the year.
Her career has been amazing to say the least in 2000 she played her first ITF circuit event in China, 2001 played first tour qualifying at Shanghai and won one doubles title on the circuit, 2002 played first main draw tour at Shanghai reaching 2nd round to lose to Anna Kournikova, made it to the quarterfinals at Quebec City, reached 2 round twice and fell in the 1st round four times and in the Tour qualifying seven times.
In 2004, she had her Top 100 season and later that year became her Top 50.
In 2005 she had a tough year but she won two Tour doubles titles and one doubles title on the ITF Circuit.
In 2006 she won 47 of 60 doubles matches in with a fairly exclusive partnership with Zi Yan (19 of 20 events). She also became the first Chinese player to earn $1 million in career prize money after her attendance at Wimbledon.
In 2007 she sat out the rest of the season after the French Open/Roland Garros with a left ankle injury.
In 2008 she exploded back to make it to the semi-finals at Wimbledon as a wild card ranked at 133. That year she also competed in Sydney/Olympics to win doubles bronze medal with partner Zi Yan.
In 2009 she had another Top 40 season and set a new Chinese national ranking record of toping the Top 20. She again suffered injury problems with her wrist during various matches and the Fed Cup World Group Play-off against Germany which her team lost.
This year in 2010 she is doing well winning Kuala Lumpur in doubles with partner Chan. As of July 12, 2010 the WTA Tour Rankings as put her statistics as 23 in Singles, 17 in Race Singles, and 20 in Doubles. Her year to date Win-Loss Record for Singles is 18 – 12, and Doubles 20 – 10. Her Year to Date Prize Money earnings is $600,000+ and growing.
As we look into how the Asian players stand up in the rankings we see players such as Na Li, Jie Zheng, and Shuai Peng ranked #1, #2, and #4 in the Asian ranking but in the WTA ranking they respectively rank as 15, 23, and 51 all in the Top 100 in women. In overall ranking in the WTA Asian women are ranking in the Top 100 with 10 of the women in the WTA Top 100 being from Asia (3 from CHN, 2 from JPN, 1 from KAZ, 1 from THA, 2 from TPE, and 1 from IND). These rankings show the sudden increase in the WTA of Asian Women. As rankings go it could take forever to review just what impact the Asian Women are making on the WTA circuit; but believe they are slowly creeping up the rankings. There are Asian WTA players ranked from 15 to 1111 which is tied by two players representing Japan (Yoko Naito and Tomoko Sugano) and in the Asian Tennis Federation they are tied at 186 in rankings.
As an overall Asia covers a great deal of the rankings in the Fed Cup, with countries like Japan, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia in the positions of 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 in the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I for 2010.
These rankings and information only serves to show those Asian women tennis players, as sell as Asian Men tennis players are advancing through the rankings with a mass attack on positions that the European players are not able to hold on to, let alone the players from the USA. One factor that is different from Asian Women tennis players are doing that other players such as the European Women tennis players is that most Asian Women tennis players are staying within their own country for their training and coaching. A lot of the European Women and Men are moving to the USA and taking on United States coaches or attending USA teaching academies. Within the Asian countries there is a strong support group from the Asian Tennis Federation to develop players from a very young age. Granted it is no different than the development of the United States Tennis Association, but it is overwhelming to see the type of schedule and traveling that the players have to do. Within the WTA tournaments in the USA players travel within the United States of America; within the Asian Women’s Tournament Calendar the players travel between China, United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan, Rep. of China, Japan, and Indonesia. The youth girls travel between the same countries with added countries of Australia, New Zealand, India, and many more.
So we can say, Asian Women Tennis players make a great impact on the Women Tennis Association when it comes to ranking, but they also make an impact on how one nation can come together and overwhelm others without always being on top of the hill; or in the tennis industry, top of the ranking.
Andre Christopher Smith
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