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Atlanta Native Jamea Jackson Shines in Career Breakthrough at DFS Classic

June 21, 2006 12:40 PM

Atlanta-born Jamea Jackson shocked the tennis world by defeating four seeded players, including former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, and advancing to the finals of the DFS Classic held Sunday in Birmingham, England. Although the 19-year old lost in the championship final to Russian Vera Zvonareva 7-6, 7-6, she chronicled her time at the tourney as the “best week of her career”.

Jackson walked into the DFS Classic as an unseeded young talent but quickly fired up the courts and turned heads after wins against eighth-seeded Jelena Jankovic in the third round and fourth-seeded Elena Likhovtseva in the quarterfinals. Her biggest challenge came as she prepared to face two-time defending champ and top seed Sharapova in the semifinals. In a stunning performance, Jackson came away with a seamless 6-4, 6-4 win over the tennis superstar.

“I ran into a player who played the most unbelievable tennis of her life,” said Sharapova.

Jackson advanced to play in her first major final against the also unseeded Vera Zvonareva. The final began to go in favor of the Russian once Jackson failed to break Zvonareva’s serve in the 8th game, which would have given her a 5-3 lead. Zvonareva went on to clinch five consecutive games before surviving a rally in the 10th point of the second tiebreak, ensuring the championship win.

“We had such a great fight out there,” Zvonareva said, of the match.

As for her recent surge in success, Jackson credits her “mental toughness”. That mental tenacity also helped her jump in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Singles Rankings. Jackson is now ranked 54, a good leap from her previous ranking of 81.

Is Jackson the future of American women's tennis? ESPN.com's Greg Garber thinks so. Click here for the full story.




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