Getting To Know... Christina McHale

Calmness could prove to be a handy characteristic for this up-and-coming young American.

Published March 13, 2011 02:32

Getting To Know... Christina McHale
Christina McHale

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - When Christina McHale arrived at this week's BNP Paribas Open she already had a marquee scalp to her name, having beaten Nadia Petrova in the first round at Cincinnati last summer. But there was a caveat on that result, as Petrova retired with the American ahead a set and 5-3. On Saturday, however, the 18-year-old from New Jersey proved she can go all the way against the big girls when she stunned two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the No.11 seed, in two tie-breaks. Next up for the world No.112: a rematch with Petrova in the third round.

We caught up with Christina after her Indian Wells first round defeat of Akgul Amanmuradova, and before her victory over Kuznetsova.

How did you get into tennis?
CM: I started tennis when I was six years old. We were living in Hong Kong and our apartment complex had tennis courts. My older sister, Lauren, had started to take a couple of lessons and so I wanted to join in as well. We just began recreationally and it grew from there.

Tell us about your family.
CM:  Lauren's two years older than me. We're really close - she still plays tennis as well, for Princeton. And then there's my mom, Margarita and my dad, John - he works in finance. We're a really tight family. They always try to support me as much as they can, and I'm grateful for that.

What's your coaching situation at the moment?
CM: Right now I'm training at the USTA Center in New York.

How do you describe your playing style, and are your working on any particular aspect of your game at present?
CM: I'm an aggressive baseliner, and my favorite shot is the forehand. I'm trying to become more of an all-court player, coming into the net a little more.

If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
CM: I would steal Serena's serve.

Do you have a favorite tournament?
CM: I like hardcourts, and my favorite tournament is the US Open.

What are your goals in tennis?
CM: I don't really have any specific ranking goals or results. Right now I'm just trying to improve upon my game. My ultimate goal would be to win a Grand Slam title.

Did you have a tennis idol when you were growing up?
CM: My sister and I liked Serena and Venus, because we wanted to be like them - the sister act!

Who has been your toughest opponent to date?
CM: I've played Kim Clijsters before, so I would have to say she's been the toughest so far.

Best tennis memory so far?
CM: Winning my first round match at the US Open two years ago was a really special moment for me. Last year I reached my first WTA semi at Québec City, so that was a breakthrough as well.

How far did you go in your education?
CM: I graduated from high school last year.

What do you like about life on tour? And what's tough?
CM: I like traveling to all these places and meeting new people at the tournaments. Of course, it's also tough being away from home, but I try to find the right balance.

What do you like to do to relax?
CM: I like to hang out with my friends and my sister, go to the movies and read. My favorite movie is Remember the Titans and my favorite books are from the Something Borrowed series by Emily Giffin, which also includes Something Blue and Baby Proof.

What non-tennis skill do you wish you had?
CM: I speak Spanish but wish I could speak more languages. I was in Hong Kong from the age of three to eight, and at my school they taught a little Mandarin every day, but my knowledge of it is very basic.

Describe yourself in one word.
CM: Calm.

What quality do you appreciate most in others?
CM: Honesty.

Apart from family and friends, what's your most treasured possession?
CM: My phone.

If you could meet anybody in the world, who would you like it to be?
CM: I never met my grandfather, so I would say him.

What might you have done if you hadn't become a tennis player?
CM: Studying. Right now I'd be in my freshman year in college.

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