[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ew 14 year olds can earn their way into the main draw of a USTA Pro Circuit event, but that’s where Apopka’s Jaleesa Leslie found herself three months ago in Tampa.
Leslie entered the qualifying for the $15,000 event with no WTA ranking and promptly dispatched of fellow Americans Najah Dawson, Viva Laas and Sophie Abrams without dropping a set to advance to the main draw. There she challenged Canadian Anca Craciun 7-6(2), 6-3, ending a career-best week.
“Being able to qualify for a $15K USTA Pro Circuit event was a great experience for me because it showed me that I am capable to get into more pro circuit tournaments,” said the now-15 year old. “It motivates me to train even harder.”
No doubt the resident of Apopka, just outside of Orlando, celebrated with her self-described favorite tournament reward food, Chick-fil-A.
Jaleesa will play in the girls’ 18s division beginning this weekend when the 2018 USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships are contested on June 9-13 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
Here’s a look at Jaleesa heading into the 2018 Florida state championships:
Full Name: Jaleesa Leslie
Home Town: Apopka
School: Florida Virtual
Age Started Tennis: 5
Training Base: Altamonte Springs
Coach: Vladimir Obradovic
Favorite Surface: Hard
Favorite Player: Madison Keys
Facebook or Twitter? Twitter
Serena or Venus? Serena
Ice cream or chocolate? Ice cream
Novak, Rafa or Roger? Novak
Gatorade or Powerade? Gatorade
Sharapova or Azarenka? Azarenka
Favorite website? YouTube
Favorite app? Snapchat
Favorite TV show? Star
What years have you played the “Bobby Curtis” state championships and what have been your best results?
The last time I played the Bobby Curtis state championships was when I was playing in the 14s, and my best result was the quarterfinals.
Do you have a pre-match routine?
My pre-match routine is after warm-up, I put on my headphones, and go somewhere by myself mentally to prepare myself.
What is the best thing about traveling around playing tennis?
The best thing about traveling around playing tennis is getting to see new places, as well as meeting new people.
What kind of events do you have planned for the rest of the year?
I am trying to get into more pro circuit events, as well as traveling for more ITFs, and playing higher-level USTA tournaments. My future plans on playing pro is to try my hardest to make it to some of the biggest tournaments in tennis.
What is your favorite tournament?
My favorite tournament would be the Orange Bowl, because it is exciting to see junior players from around the world, or country, trying to accomplish the same goal I have.
The 2018 USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Singles Championships will be held on June 9-13 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. Florida’s top junior tournament will be contested in girls’ and boys’ age 18-12 divisions. For a tournament preview and more click here.