It's usually around 3 or 4 a.m., as she is serving yet another cocktail, when single mother Paula Liverpool asks herself why she's bartending at a strip club till 5 in the morning when she must get up at 8 for her day job.
And then her mind turns to Sachia Vickery, her 12-year-old daughter -- tucked away in bed in Miramar in her grandmother's care, resting her chiseled body for another day of elite tennis training.
Sachia, the nation's No. 1-ranked junior player in the 12-and-under division, is already winning tournaments against 14-year-olds. And her mother, an immigrant from Guyana, will do anything to make sure her only daughter can compete ``with the girls who carry Louis Vuitton luggage to tournaments.''
Nadine Duval understands completely. She left behind her physician husband and a neonatology practice in Haiti to move to South Florida to give her children a better life. Among them is daughter Victoria, 11, No. 3 in the 12-and-unders, who could end up across the net from Sachia this weekend at the Florida State Closed championship in Daytona Beach.
Victoria Duval and her mom Nadine
Liverpool spends roughly $3,500 a month on Sachia's tennis, mostly on travel and private coaching at the Patrick McEnroe Tennis Academy on Grove Isle. Sometimes, when she can't get away from work, she sends her daughter and mother to tournaments on a Greyhound bus.
By day, she is an administrator for Kaplan University. Four nights a week, when she bartends at Club Rolexx in North Miami, she gets by on three hours' sleep.
''Sachia's tennis is not a fad,'' Liverpool says. ``She is very motivated and talented, and I want to be able to make her dream come true."
Says Nadine Duval
''It's frustrating for me to have given up my practice, but I'm happy as a Mom,'' ``I feel I have a responsibility to my children, and sometimes things are good for them, even if they're not good for you.''
Both girls say they were inspired by Venus and Serena Williams.
''Venus and Serena gave little black girls everywhere somebody to look up to,'' said Liverpool. ``They see there's somebody who looks like them winning tennis tournaments all over the world, someone with a similar background, somebody not rich, and it motivates these girls to follow their dreams.''
Her coach, former tour pro Laurence Tieleman, is equally impressed: ``What's remarkable about Sachia is not so much how she strikes the ball, because a lot of girls can do that, but it's how she understands the game so well.''
Victoria's coach, Jai Dilouie, is equally effusive about his star. ''Other kids have good strokes but don't compete well,'' he said. ``Vicki is ultra competitive, plays smart shots, and knows how to win.''
For more of Michelle Kaufman's great article go Here
And thanks to my friend Allison for bringing these two young women to my attention!
Note: Final Girls 14 Singles USTA Florida State Closed Sectional BG 14, 16, & 18
(12) Sachia Vickery d. (2) Victoria Duval 7-6; 3-6; 6-1