Rasheeda McAdoo lost her qualifying match at the Henderson Tennis Open on Monday in a tiebreaker. On Tuesday, she and wild-card doubles partner Jessica Livianu were beaten 7-5, 6-2 by top-seeded Giuliana Olmos of Mexico and Ellen Perez of Australia.
They were playing on court 4, the most distant from center court at DragonRidge Country Club and about as far as one can get from the hallowed All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and the red clay of Roland-Garros, and raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the sweltering heat of the Australian Open.
McAdoo also had a bad cold.
When she and her mother, Patrizia — whom Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo met when while playing in Italy during his career’s twilight — left Toronto it was 37 degrees and damp. It was 79 and dry when they arrived in Las Vegas, and there were a bunch of kids with the sniffles on their Petri dish flight.
It is difficult to play pro tennis — even a satellite tour event with a modest purse of $60,000 — when you’re breathing through your mouth. And when the higher seed on the other baseline isn’t totally in awe of your father’s ability to sink a sweet fall-away jump shot en route to being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the Buffalo Braves, which is what the Clippers once were called.
“He’s been to the top level so he always compares what he’s been through and tries to tell me what it takes to get to the top,” Rasheeda McAdoo, 24, says of her father’s influence on her ground strokes.
Between sneezes, she said she was born a few years after her dad buried his last step-back jumper. But sometimes when she gets lonely on the road she calls up his highlights on YouTube.
“Mostly when I see the videos I’m shocked, because they wore shorts shorter than I did,” said the former Georgia Tech ace with a smile warmer than the afternoon sun that she hoped would soon dry her sinuses.
Grinding it out
There is a lot of time to watch grainy NBA videos when one is trying to earn a ranking and a living playing tennis in the hinterlands. McAdoo is ranked No. 691 by the WTA computer with a career singles record of 18-27. Through Nov. 4, she had earned $11,143 playing pro tennis this year.
“It’s tough mentally, it’s tough physically,’ she said after her match on an idyllic day for doubles tennis, or just about anything else. “For everyone in these tournaments, it’s a grind. They try so hard, they fight for every point. Mentally, you have to be tough. No one’s going to give up points.”
The transition from college tennis to the cutthroat variety played by budding pros — no tanking allowed on the satellite circuits — is not for the timid, she said.
“It’s definitely harder than I thought. When I was at Tech, it was a team aspect — everyone’s cheering for each other. Then when you come out here, you’re all alone. You have to book hotels for yourself, you’re eating by yourself, there’s no support.
“You have to be very independent out here, or it will get to you.”
This is where being the offspring of a famous athlete can be a detriment. You’ve got the genes, and that’s great, but so are the expectations. McAdoo said her dad comes to her matches when he can, but that his scouting duties for the Miami Heat precluded him from making the trip to Southern Nevada.
On the satellite circuits, sometimes it’s worse than other responsibilities and commitments getting in the way.
Allie Kiick, daughter of former Miami Dolphins’ star running back Jim Kiick, played in the Henderson Open when it was contested at Red Rock in Summerlin. She said her dad suffers from Alzheimer’s, and that when she battled back from four knee surgeries to play in the U.S. Open, her dad couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of that accomplishment.
“Sometimes my mom will come, sometimes my dad will come,” McAdoo said of being alone on the road. “Sometimes I’ll ask them to come, and they’ll say ‘OK, sure.’ But it’s mostly me, traveling by myself or with other girls, sharing the costs so we don’t have to pay top price all the time.”
Rasheeda McAdoo still was smiling and sniffling when long late afternoon shadows began to envelop DragonRidge. She was sitting on a bench outside the clubhouse with her mother, talking about cold remedies, and waiting for the man from the tournament office to bring her a check for $253.75.
Henderson Tennis Open
What: ITF World Tennis Tour event
Where: DragonRidge Country Club, Henderson
When: Matches daily through Sunday.
Prize money: $60,000
Tickets: $10 starting on Friday. UNLVtickets.com, or http://tinyurl.com/y56mnut2