Allison Bradshaw knew her mother was one of the first professional women tennis players, but she didn't understand how significant that was until this summer.
That's because this June, the 19-year-old native of San Diego decided to go pro herself.
Bradshaw is in Utah to compete in the USTA's Bank One Challenger Tournament at Sandy's Canyon Racquet Club, where she made her way into today's semifinals with a hard-fought victory over Evie Dominikovic of Australia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, Friday afternoon.
"I just recently realized how much they'd done," she said of those first eight women who signed professional contracts in 1970. "Actually, being out on the tour, seeing how much women's tennis has risen (in prominence), made me realize what she'd done."
Bradshaw's mom, Valerie Ziegenfuss, spent 10 years playing tennis as a professional. She had a baby — little Allison — in 1980, and turned to teaching and coaching.
Bradshaw grew up watching her mother coach other kids and at age 5 decided she wanted to give the sport a try also.
"She never pushed me into it or anything," she said. "I've always wanted to follow in my mom's footsteps. I knew I didn't want to stay in college all four years. . . . I knew I was good at tennis. I wanted to make that my career."
Bradshaw got off to a great start winning her first professional tournament in the USTA Prudential Securities Circuit 10K event in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
She was an All-American in singles and doubles at Arizona State University as a freshman this spring.
The friendly redhead said she talks to her mother every day, and always about her matches.
"She's the first person I call," she said. "We're extremely close."
When Ziegenfuss, who now works for USTA, can travel to her daughter's tournaments, she helps her with strategy and scouting.
"She gives me advice all the time," Bradshaw says with a smile. "She gives me strategy on players — helps me with what I'm doing wrong."
Bradshaw struggled to close out her match with Dominikovic, and especially with her serves during the third set.
"It's pretty hot, but I'm used to the heat," she said. "I can't use that as an excuse. . . . I came through when I needed to, but I was getting frustrated with myself. . . . I missed a lot of shots I usually make."
She said she feels a little out of shape and that hurt her serve as the sets wore on.
"I got a little tired," she said. "Serving I could definitely feel it in my legs. It's something I need to work on."
Bradshaw said she's getting over feeling out of her league and more like she belongs at the top of the pro circuit.
"To be able to get into the semifinals of this tournament, it's very unexpected," she said. "But I'm gaining more confidence. I think I have a chance in this. I'm feeling more like I belong. . . . I don't think I could have chosen anything better to do with my life."
Semifinal play resumes today at 10 a.m. with singles matches as Bradshaw faces Jessica Steck from Russia. Steck defeated Kristina Kraszewski earlier Friday.
In quarterfinal doubles action: Samantha Reeves and Steck defeated Soon Kim and Suzanna Wibowo; Lisa McShea and Irina Selyutina overpowered Rensts Kolbovic and Wynne Prakusya; Karin Miller and Sarah Taylor topped Eun-Ha Kim and Julie Pullin; and Yoon Jeong Cho and Maiko Inoue eliminated Dawn Buth and Dominikovic.