On the rise in 2011 – Christina McHale

Born in Teaneck, New Jersey, this 5′ 7″ American began playing tennis on courts in her family’s apartment complex in Hong Kong. From age 3 – 8, Christina’s family lived in Hong Kong due to her father’s job transfer.

I had a chance to catch up with Christina a few weeks ago, and this is what she had to say on her introduction to tennis: “I was seven years old when I first picked up a racquet. I started playing tennis because my sister, Lauren, had started to take lessons so I wanted to follow what she was doing. At first I was just having fun and unaware that this was something I could do for the rest of my life, but once I played my first tournament at age ten I knew I wanted to be a tennis player.”  McHale grew up idolizing the Williams sisters.

McHale’s career in the junior ranks saw her capture the girls’ doubles title at the Australian Open, the Girls’ 18s singles title at the Easter Bowl as well as winning both the Girls singles and doubles titles at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships.

Each year since she began playing pro tournaments in 2007, the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey native has risen steadily in the rankings – 712th in 2007, up to 425th in 2008 and 218th at the end of 2009.  McHale is currently ranked 109th in the world and reached a career high of 106th on October 4th, 2010.

McHale is making strides in her WTA career with main draw play in the 2009 Australian Open, 2010 French Open and 2009 and 2010 US Opens. In 2010 her aggressive baseline game and favorite shot, her forehand, helped to reach the round of 16s in WTA tour events in Cincinnati, Charleston, Stanford and the semifinals in Quebec City. McHale calls her biggest win to date a victory over Nadia Petrova at Western and Southern Financial Open in Cincinnati this past August.

McHale’s favorite moments in her young career include “winning my first round at the US Open last year (2009) because it meant so much to me to have all my family and friends there supporting me. Another one of my most memorable moments was being appointed to the official Fed Cup team in February against France. It was a real honor for me.”

McHale is hoping to make the main draw of the Australian Open again as she’s been invited to compete in the USTA Australian Open Wildcard play-off this month in Atlanta.

McHale trains at the USTA Training Center in Carson, California.

McHale lists her goals for the 2011 season as “to get my ranking high enough to directly get into main draw of the grand slams. Most importantly though, I want to just keep improving and adding new dimensions to my game. My career goal would be to make top 10 in the world.”

I know I’ll enjoy watching Christina McHale raise her game and her ranking in 2011.