Getting To Know... Shenay Perry
Published July 02, 2006 12:00
BIRMINGHAM, England - Prior to 2006, there were already several impressive accomplishments in Shenay Perry's tennis resumé. Her 2004 season was highlighted by her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour quarterfinal (at Auckland), her first Top 20 win (Fabiola Zuluaga at Miami) and her career Top 100 debut. In 2005 she reached another quarterfinal (at Québec City), notched another Top 20 win (Alicia Molik at the US Open) and reached her first third round of a major (at Wimbledon). Already this year she has reached another final eight (at Memphis) and the third round at Roland Garros recently. Coming into Wimbledon ranked a career-high No.62, the 21-year-old American looks forward to using her power game to go even higher during the summer grass and hard court seasons. [After this interview was conducted, she reached the fourth round at The Championships.]
Tell us about your hometown, where you were born and grew up.
SP: I was born in Washington DC and grew up in Maryland. I trained in DC until I was 12 years old, in a group of about 20 kids that was sponsored by Reebok. We then moved to Coral Springs, Florida, which is where I live now. I haven't been back to DC in a while.
What does your family do, and do any of them play tennis?
SP: My dad, Ronald Sr., is an ex-firefighter and he coached tennis, he was my coach. My mom, Debra, was his assistant. They now run a club down in Vero Beach. My brother, Roland Jr., also plays.
Tell us about your first memory playing tennis. How did you start?
SP: I started playing with my dad. He used to play recreationally, so I'd go and watch him. He started me playing when I was 4 years old, before I started going to school. He was a firefighter at the time.
Tell us about your coaching.
SP: I was always coached by my dad until 2003. I went to academies once or twice, like Bollettieri's when I was 12 and Rick Macy's when I was 13 and 14, but it was always him until then. But for the last three years I've been coached by Ola Malmqvist.
Who were your tennis idols growing up, and why?
SP: The only one I remember was Pete Sampras. I have tried to model my game and personality on court after him. Unfortunately, I've never had a chance to meet him.
In your own words, describe your game style.
SP: I would consider myself an all-court player. My serve and forehand are my biggest weapons (note: her serve has been clocked at just under 120mph this year). My favorite surface is hard court.
What do you keep busy with away from the courts?
SP: I do a lot of off-court training, like the bike and weight training. When I'm not on a playing schedule, I usually do one hour of cardio and one hour of weights per day. I also enjoy shopping, listening to music, taking it easy. I'm starting to go to the beach.
What are your career goals?
SP: In the short term, I'd like to be Top 50 by the end of the year. Long term is probably Top 20, and long, long term would be Top 10.
What do you feel about the grass court season? Do you feel like your strengths come out on this surface?
SP: I feel I have the potential to play really well on this surface. I get off the court feeling really good about my game. I'm very optimistic about Eastbourne, and heading to Wimbledon again, to match what I did there last year would be great.
You've reached quarterfinals, third rounds at majors, and had wins over Top 20, Top 30 players. What are you most proud of to date?
SP: My proudest moment to date would definitely be reaching the third round at Wimbledon (in 2005). I had been injured for most of the season leading up to it, and to get to the third round was more than I had hoped going in. My biggest win would probably be beating Jelena Dokic in Birmingham in 2004. To beat her on grass at that point was shocking, because she had been a Wimbledon semifinalist.
What are your favorite destinations on the Tour?
SP: My favorite city is Rome, I always wanted to go there as a kid. I loved Auckland, I went there three years ago, it's just similar to the States. I like a lot of tournaments because of the surroundings, the atmosphere, like Memphis, the US Open and Indian Wells.
What do you feel about American tennis right now, and where do you feel you fit in?
SP: I don't really look at how American tennis is, I just focus on myself. I do feel like it will shape up but I don't feel pressure to carry the flag. I feel like this game is being dominated by a more diverse range of nations, and there is now much more depth than before.
You've mentioned before that you admire Althea Gibson, for opening up the door for African-Americans in tennis. Tell us about that.
SP: I'm aware of her presence, and what she did for African-Americans in the tennis world. Her accomplishments opened a lot of doors for us, like Zina Garrison did, Venus and Serena, even someone like Roy McMillan, they have all done a lot.