"I've just worked so hard and could never get over that hump", an excited Sachia Vickery said after defeating no. 3 ranked Garbine Muguruza, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 at her second round at Indian Wells. She had put on an excellent performance against the Spaniard and looked up at her box beaming with acknowledgement and pride.
The entry into main draws at grand slams may have propelled this Florida native into wanting to make a bigger, better presence at tournaments and this may be the right place and time to do it. Five years ago she won the USTA National Junior Championships and was given a wildcard into the main draw of the 2013 US Open.
The following year another wildcard was allotted her at the 2014 Australian Open. Despite the fact of bowing at the first rounds, it gave her the confidence to do better and she qualifed making it into the Wimbledon Championships again at the same time she won two ITF circuit titles at Plantation and Sunrise Florida.
It was a few years ago she qualifed again but for Roland Garros and the same year reached her first final in almost a year at the ITF Templeton event in California. Indian Wells might have been Vickery's point of proving herself but she is beginning to be known for her gritty, defiant gameplay that may leave most opponents wondering of the tennis strategies she'll work on them to gain access into event and tournament fields.
The first round of the PNB Paribas had Vickery pitted against the controversial and at times unpredictable Canadian Eugenie Bouchard. It started as a slugfest with both showing their tactics of slicing, spinning and just finding the open court to make that winning shot.
Bouchard wouldn't be easy and Vickery had convinced herself that putting on the gas and not letting up would net her more wins than errors. "I was confident with my returns. I was happy with the way I fought", she'd said after her win 6-3, 6-4 win over Bouchard.
"I was happy that I was able to come out with a win", the Florida native had smiled, not knowing what would develop in her second round with the Wimbledon Champ Garbine Muguruza. But Vickery knew she'd have to bring her 'A' game of guts and grit to her defense in playing the more experienced Muguruza.
The first set, the Spaniard had steamrolled Vickery but not easily with extended rallies and mixing up her shots to win over the ITF player. It was purely Vickery's second round to make her strategies count and she did as she powerballed Muguruza and fought back from a 3-0 trail with multiples of deuces and ads as well as intense long rallies hitting the 30-shot range.
Vickery found little spots on the court that Muguruza didn't predict and made her points sting. The Spaniard started to show fatigue as her game started to unravel with added unforced errors giving Vickery the game on the scoreboard and courage to speed up her game with accuracy and determination.
It was a slow but steady climb that lead Vickery soon to even off the score of 5-all and then win the second set 7-5. Muguruza started breathing harder but kept focus in the deciding set. The consistency and grit showed in Sachia Vickery's game as she lead all the way in the last set.
As the ITF lady lead 4-1, then 5-1, she could taste victory and it was only a matter of time that she'd won the set 6-1 and the match over the third ranked Muguruza. She had covered her mouth in disbelief of winning and said later "I can't believe it...I just tried to fight every point...I can't believe I won".
She played a gutsy, gritty fight to the end and it paid off, but she knows now what it will take and is aware she'll have to execute that type of gamesmanship with her next exhilarating round with Japan's powerhouse server and player Naomi Osaka.