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Arantxa Sanchez Vicario

Professional At Fourteen

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was born on December 18, 1971 in Barcelona, Spain. Named after Saint Aranzazu, the patron saint of the Basque region of Spain, Sanchez Vicario was the youngest of four children. Her father, Emilio, is an engineer, and her mother, Marisa, is a teacher. Sanchez Vicario fell in love with tennis, or at least a tennis racket, when she was two years old. Because she was constantly toddling onto the court and interrupting the play of her parents and older siblings, her mother gave her a Slazenger racquet to distract and occupy her. Once Sanchez Vicario picked it up, she never put it down. The racket became her constant companion and her favorite toy.

Following in the footsteps of her older siblings, Sanchez Vicario soon became an impressive tennis player. At first she spent hours hitting balls against the wall at the country club. She then began to train with Manuel Orantes, a former top-ten player, who worked with

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario

Sanchez Vicario on the clay courts of nearby Club Real de Tenis. By the time she was thirteen, she was the top female player in Spain. She turned professional in June 1986 at the age of fourteen.

In 1987 Sanchez Vicario made a grand debut at her first Grand Slam event by reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open. She did not drop a set until losing to Gabriela Sabatini, ranked No. 7, in the quarterfinals. Although she was defeated in the first round at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, her year-end ranking had risen to from No. 124 to No. 47. In 1988 Sanchez Vicario once again did well on the clay courts at Roland Garros, where the French Open is played. She again reached the quarterfinals, this time by upsetting Chris Evert, ranked No. 3 at the time. She won her first singles title at the Belgian Open just a month before her seventeenth birthday.

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