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Huber Sees Bright Future For McHale

Liezel Huber believes her Fed Cup teammate Christina McHale has the skills and personality to reach the top of women's tennis.

Published February 27, 2012 01:41

Huber Sees Bright Future For McHale
Christina McHale

Some players make their tennis breakthrough in a blaze of glory. For others, the path to the top is a slow and steady one.

Christina McHale has taken the second route, and the unassuming 19-year-old has been only too happy to shun the limelight and take things at her own pace. Particularly, when that pace has already seen her break into the Top 40 and record wins over Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Marion Bartoli.

"For me, it's actually felt like I'm moving at a slow and steady pace," McHale said. "It hasn't felt like it's come too soon or anything for me. It's just been a process. I just want to keep going."

And keep going she has. Only two weeks ago she claimed her sixth Top 20 scalp, defeating Peng Shuai en route to the quarterfinals in Doha, which propelled her to a career-high ranking of No.34. This run, in which she twice came from a set down to win, also highlighted the improvements in McHale's conditioning and mental game.

"Part of it is maturity and experience, but I'm definitely more fit," she said. "Compared to last year, I feel more fit and that I can last another two sets whereas last year I might have been tired already."

With excellent groundstrokes, good movement and an on-court intelligence that belies her tender years, McHale appears to have all the natural gifts to make it all the way to the top. These attributes, allied with an affable off court personality, have already begun attracting plaudits from both the press and her fellow players.

Amongst this latter group is Fed Cup teammate Liezel Huber. Earlier this month, McHale and Huber helped the USA to a 5-0 victory over Belarus, a tie that saw McHale record her first two singles rubber wins in the competition.

"Christina came in the team as a rookie, like I did at some point, and now we know can hold her own," Huber said. "She's a good team player and a nice girl. She's quiet, she's shy and listens a lot.

"You know, if she improves her doubles skills, she will guarantee having a spot on the team for the Fed Cup and Olympics, as well."

Huber is also confident that her young compatriot will soon be challenging the WTA's more established names for the biggest prizes on a regular basis.

"Christina still has a lot to mature in her game to compete day in and day out with the Azarenkas, the Radwanskas and so on," Huber added. "But you know she's had great wins and Christina is not going to think it's impossible to win these matches."

For the time being, though, McHale will be taking things one step at a time. And who can blame her? Slow and steady has worked out pretty well so far.

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