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MOVING FORWARD

 

July 2012

Liezel Huber is the current Number 1 ranked women’s doubles player in the world and has won 7 Grand Slam doubles titles. She has won at least one Championship in all four of the Grand Slams.  Liezel won her first Women’s Doubles Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2005.  She won the Australian Open in 2007 and both were with her long time doubles partner, Cara Black. Liezel won the French Open Mixed title in 2009 with Bob Bryan and she has won 3 US Open titles.  Her first US Open championship was the 2008 Women’s Doubles title with Cara Black.  She won the US Open Mixed Doubles Championship in 2010 with Bob Bryan. Liezel won last year’s US Open Women’s Doubles title with her current partner, Lisa Raymond.

If you watch her play, it is obvious that the secret to her success is that she is always moving forward. She moves forward anticipating a volley, after hitting a volley, during her service returns, after her service returns and when she serves. Liezel is always moving forward, both in tennis and in life.

Liezel Horn was born August 21, 1976 in Durban, South Africa. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa and the biggest city on the east coast of the African continent. It is the busiest port in South Africa and is famous for its subtropical climate and extensive beaches. At 15 years of age, LIezel followed her dream to be a professional tennis player. She left Durban and arrived at Van der Meer’s tennis academy in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. That is where she met future husband Tony Huber. Tony began his coaching career at Van der Meer’s, which is located in beautiful Shipyard Plantation, in 1993. In 1999, Tony started coaching Liezel full time and the two married in February of 2000. Liezel became a naturalized US citizen in 2007.

Liezel has been a huge success in women’s tennis. She has won over 60 doubles titles and has earned over $5 million in prize money. As with her success in tennis, she has kept moving forward in other aspects of her life. In 2005, she started a foundation called Liezel’s Cause to raise money and gather basic supplies to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In May of 2008, Liezel and Tony opened the Huber Tennis Ranch in Cypress, Texas, just outside of Houston. The Huber Tennis Ranch is a state of the art teaching facility that has 12 full size hard courts and three Quick Start mini courts. Huber Ranch was one of the first facilities to adopt the USTA’s Quick Start program and build specific courts for children age 10 and under. Their goal is to make Huber Ranch one of the very best teaching academies in the United States. The teaching staff includes, Tony who is the founder and president, Brett Robertson and Ali Keily.

Brett is the director of tennis, originally from South Africa, and has 20 years teaching experience at Van der Meer Tennis University on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Ali Keily is a tennis professional at Huber Ranch and is a 1981 graduate of the College of Charleston. Tony, LIezel, Brett and Ali all have significant ties to South Carolina and launched their careers out of the Low Country.

Liezel’s tennis career hasn’t been without controversy. She has been criticized for how she handled the two bounce incident at the Australian Open. She has been criticized and blamed for the break up with doubles partner Cara Black, and she has been criticized for her outspoken statements about the Williams sisters not playing Fed Cup. Liezel believes strongly in playing for and supporting your country. She has played for the US Fed Cup team every chance she has had and represented the USA in the 2008 Bejing Olympics. Liezel has always found a way to solve her problems while remaining focused on winning her matches. She found a new doubles partner in Lisa Raymond, where she is ranked number one in the world. Liezel and Lisa have had an incredible winning streak. Liezel stated, “If we’re ever having a bad moment, we try to keep it as short as possible... Like if I’ve made an error or two errors, I know it’s not permanent, just take two minutes, forgive yourself and move on. Just think of the next game. Our run has been unbelievable, we have come close to losing at times, but we have worked very hard, and the hard work has been showing in our great results.” This attitude is what has made Liezel a winner.

Liezel was quoted about the Williams sisters not playing Fed Cup, “We want this trophy and we want them to play, but if they don’t play, it’s very tough for me to be supportive of their decision come Olympics time and they want to play, they have to understand that people that are going to be loyal, I would hope, are going to be ahead of them, because we are loyal. We want to bring the Cup home.” It is refreshing to hear a player actually speak their mind and not be so concerned with being politically correct. This will be an interesting year in 2012 with the Olympics being played in London. Neither Venus nor Serena have played Fed Cup when needed, and they were really needed in the final against Italy. Both Williams sisters are planning on playing the 2012 games for the USA on the Wimbledon grass and their teaming up together to play doubles could remove the world’s number one ranked team of Huber and Raymond. Therefore, Liezel’s comments could be that of just looking out for her own self interest to play in the Olympics and win the gold medal which she really wants. However, Liezel has always been there for the USA and the Fed Cup and she has been the consummate team player. No one can argue that she hasn’t been a loyal Fed Cup player for the USA.

Liezel has excelled both on and off the court. She moved to the Low Country at an early age to become the best. She started relief funds for Hurricane Katrina victims, she and her husband have started a tennis ranch, and she has become the number one ranked doubles player in the world.  She keeps moving forward in life as well as she does during each and every match. No doubt she isn’t finished yet, and at age 35, she still has a lot of tennis left and a lot more to give.

Written by Chuck Lee

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