Get to Know a Tennis Upstart: Vania King

Rob YorkSenior Writer ISeptember 3, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 02:  Vania King of the United States returns a shot against Samantha Stosur of Australia during day three of the 2009 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2009 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

American Vania King upset No. 15 seed Samantha Stosur 7-5, 6-4 on Wednesday.

King, 20, is currently ranked just outside the top 100 in women’s singles, and up until now her biggest result when going solo had been a single title in Bangkok in 2006.

In doubles, she has known considerably more success, having won seven titles with a handful of partners, including Jelena Kostanić Tošić, Nadia Petrova, and Sania Mirza. In mixed doubles, she reached the finals of Roland Garros alongside Brazilian doubles stalwart Marcelo Melo.

A native of Long Beach, CA, King was probably feeling somewhat lucky even to be in the second round of the Open, having received a wild card into the event. In her first-round match, opponent Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus injured her foot three games after play began, leaving on crutches.

Now in her 11th year as a pro, Stosur has also more known for her doubles prowess, having won two Grand Slams with partner Lisa Raymond. The 25-year-old Australian has been enjoying a career season in singles; however, having reached the semifinals of Roland Garros and pushing eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova to three sets.

The serving-and-volleying Australian had beaten Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama in three sets in round one. Stosur was also expected to overpower King—she hit a serve recorded at 122 mph last year in Seoul—but made only 53 percent of her first serves and won only 36 percent of points on her second serve.

At 5’5”, King gives up three inches to the veteran Australian but was much more effective at net, winning on 16 of 20 approaches compared to her opponent’s six of 11. She also converted six out of 10 break point chances to her opponent’s four of nine.

In the next round King, who is Taiwanese-American, will again be the underdog against Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova. The lithe Slovakian’s results have been erratic over the years but she was once ranked No. 5 in the world and is twice a winner of the WTA Premier event in Indian Wells.

In addition to her career on the tennis courts, King is also a recording artist who has performed the national anthem at Dodgers Stadium and “America the Beautiful” at the US Open.