By Rawle Toney
In 2013, Guyanese, just like the rest of the world, zeroed in on a then 18 year-old Sasha Vickery, playing at her first Grand Slam – the U.S. Open.
Her opponent was Mirjana Lučić-Baroni; a 28 year-old Croatian who had once reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
Vickery won the match against Baroni 6 – 4, 6 – 4 to reach the (U.S. Open) second round where she played Julia Glushko of Israel and went down 5 – 7, 3 – 6.
It was at the U.S. Open, where the eyes of millions watching around the world, noticed her distinct rich yellow gold earrings of a miniature map of Guyana and her wristbands of the Golden Arrow Head.
Sachia Vickery took the tiny South American country to the U.S. Open. Sachia stands at 5′ 4″ (163 cm), weighing 145 lbs (66 kg) and is now ranked 128 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), with her highest being 108.
“Guyana is where my whole family is from and I consider myself mostly Guyanese though I was born in America. I feel like it’s my home” the diminutive but powerful Vickery said with a wide smile in an interview done during a short trip to Guyana recently.
Paula Liverpool, Vickery’s mother, is Guyanese and migrated to the U.S. just like anyone else chasing that American dream.
However, Paula’s dream would become seeing her talented daughter living a dream of her own – becoming a tennis star.
“I will always represent Guyana because it’s a reminder of all the struggles and things my mother did to help me to where I am today, so no, I wasn’t born in Guyana but I feel like I owe a lot to the country because of my mother,” Vickery said.
Its by no surprise that Vickery would turn out to be an athlete, after all, her father is a popular figure in Linden, known for his exploits on the football field.
Vickery would visit Guyana to get some ‘down time’ from the sport and would use it to interact with family and share her knowledge of the game to aspiring Guyanese Tennis players.
“The thing is, I don’t think Guyana was successful in getting people to play Tennis as much, so I know they would look up to me and it’s nice getting support from them as well. I always receive a lot of support from the Guyanese community. I get tons of messages from them and a few have come to see me play at Wimbledon so I love the support,” Vickery highlighted.
Reaching the qualifying rounds of the French Open (2014, 2015), along with first round appearances at the Australian Open (2014) and Wimbledon (2015), 20 year-old Sachia Vickery is often times compared to Serena Williams; something she’s very humbled by.
“It’s nice to know that people think that I remind them of her,” Vickery said, while adding, “If anything it keeps motivating me because as a young black upcoming player there’s not too many of us so if anything it pushes me”.
Indeed, not much African American women play the sport of Tennis, much less being ranked in the world and Vickery told Chronicle Sport that, “We (black Tennis players) are representing a race; young black people who look up to us.. every time I step on the court, I tell myself that I’m not only playing for me, but for other young African American girls who would love to play but don’t have that support system to back them or to take them to the next level to be a pro. It’s hard, but it also keeps me focused because you’re playing for more than just that prize money”.
Serena Williams and Martina Hingis are her favourite players but Vickery pointed out, “I don’t try to emulate anyone because everyone has his own style of play, but I really try to do the best I can with the game that I have because I’m a lot different from a lot of people on the tour. Most people are bigger than me and I always have to play extra hard”.
Offering a word of advice to young Guyanese wanting to walk in her path or create a legacy of their own, Sachia said, “It’s a lot of hard work and it’s harder than you think. It comes with a lot of sacrifice and determination to overcome the challenges as well.
“Always try to stay positive because in your career there will be times when you will feel that you want to give up, but luckily for me, I have my mom. Support is important as well.”
Photos compliments of Samuel Maughn/Guyana Chronicle