Pro Tennis Player
My name is Jacqueline Cako and I’m trying to reach my dreams of becoming the best in the world in tennis. It has been a long and difficult journey which has taken a lot of hard work, time and money. I have been competing on the professional tour for three years now and I’ve had both highs and lows. In 2016 I made some major changes, which is why I saw some big results by the end of the year. Before I go into what I’ve been up to here’s a little about me and where I come from…
I grew up in a small city north of Seattle, called Brier. I started out as a gymnast with dreams of making it to the Olympics, but those dreams were squashed as I began to grow (I’m 5’10”). When I was 8 my mom signed me up for tennis because one of my friends from school was taking lessons. I fell in love with tennis shortly after and started competing in tournaments when I was 11. By the time I was 16 I was ranked #1 in the Pacific Northwest and #3 in the nation in the 18 & under division. My mom would take me to tournaments when I was younger and when I was 16 I started traveling more on my own. I began going to international junior events in the U.S. and made it up to 64 in the world. I played in the junior U.S. Open twice, but unfortunately wasn’t able to play the other grand slams because my parents couldn’t afford to send me abroad. So, I stayed in the states and played small professional tournaments winning my first when I was 17, and again at 18. During that time I signed with Arizona State University because a good education is something I value dearly however, I still had high hopes to make it professionally so I decided to play one year on tour before going to college. I had a deal with my parents that if I made it to top 200 that I could turn pro, otherwise I would go to college before turning pro. At the end of that year I was ranked 369 in the world so I went to college. I attended Arizona State for only three years because I wanted to get back out on tour. I was in the Barrett Honors College and maximized the amount of credits I was taking in order to graduate early with a degree in Biology and the ability to go to medical school after a pro career. In addition to tennis, I accumulated academic accolades including making the Dean’s List, Pac 12 scholar-athlete of the year as well as ASU Athlete of the Year and three time All-American honors. During my time at ASU I continued to compete in pro events as well as collegiate events making the finals of All-Americans and round of 16 in the NCAA singles tournament. As soon as I graduated I turned pro and started playing a full schedule. I started out well mainly in doubles and played tournaments in the U.S. since they were more cost effective. I am able to get housing pretty much every week, and I have ways of getting cheap flights using southwest so that has saved me a lot of money. I have had to be very savvy in order to make ends meet, since my parents haven’t been able to help since college.
After two years my ranking and game had stayed fairly consistent so I had to make some changes to move forward. For 2016 I began to travel with a coach full time, which helped me to improve my game immensely while playing on the road. It was too difficult for me to figure out what was going wrong in my matches and how to improve so I could win the next time. I started 2016 ranked #460 in singles and #215 in doubles. My results were up and down in the first 8 months of the year since I played a clay court season where I lost a lot of confidence, but I began to gain that confidence in August when I made the quarterfinals of two 25k tournaments in singles and then won a wild card into the main draw of the doubles at the U.S. Open with Danielle Lao. After the Open, I spent the rest of the year playing in Asia where I had the opportunity to start playing some WTA’s. It helped me to leave the U.S. to play different players and I had a lot of success, especially in doubles. By the end of the Asia trip something clicked and in my last two tournaments of the year I made quarterfinals of a 100k in China and the semifinals of a WTA in Honolulu where I beat 3 top 100 players. At the beginning of August I was ranked at #430 in singles, and around #230 in doubles but I finished the year ranked at career highs of #259 in singles and #161 in doubles. I’ve made huge leaps in my game and I know I’m playing at a top 100 level, but the better I’m performing, the further I have to travel to build my ranking so it is more expensive. I’m also continuing to travel with my coach since he has kept me focused and on track to further improve my game, but it’s also an added expensive. I’m very close to making the qualifying of the grand slams, so my coach and I are looking to skip the clay court season to stick to hard courts and grass since they are better suited for my game. I know that with the proper approach and hopefully support from you I will continue to rise in the rankings and reach my goals. Please help me to achieve my dreams. Every bit helps!
-continue to progress
-build game and fitness
-Nutrition and focused mind
-make it to the US Open on my own ranking
-play all the Asian WTA’s in the fall
-transition out of ITF and into the WTA full time
-stay healthy and play another full year