Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


U.S. Open Tennis' Sachia Vickery is “Diggin' Deep.”

Rise to tennis elite: How changing her mindset and approach changed everything.

When I first met Sachia Vickery about 3 years ago, she was 130th in the world in the WTA rankings, and was working hard to get through the U.S. Open qualifying rounds.

In 2018, the rising tennis star not only broke into tennis exclusive ‘WTA top 100 club', but she is now ranked 78th in the world.

“I just try to focus my energy into the tennis, and shut out everything else.” Vickery told me at the time.

Prior to 2018, she was already on everyone’s ‘watch list’ because of her extraordinary strength, speed, and talent. Still, playing the game was a financial and emotional challenge for Vickery, and her single mom, Paula Liverpool, because the cost of playing tennis is so high. Coaching, travel, and training put their ‘pay to play’ figure at about $150,000 a year.

“There’s so much stress every week,” says Vickery.

“In other sports, like football, you make money upfront, before you even start the season. In tennis, you may have a good week or two, and then four bad weeks after that. You never really know what’s going to happen.”

“If you’re ranked 100th and below, you’re pretty much breaking even,” says Vickery’s mother, Paula Liverpool. “Your ability to make money affects your play. If you can’t pay for a coach, you aren’t going to keep getting better,” Liverpool adds.

Managing Your Mind Through Adversity

While moving into the top 100 is a rare and amazing accomplishment on all levels, it was the early days, when Sachia was just beginning to show promise, that taught the family many lessons about managing the psychological, emotional, and financial stress needed in order to thrive.

“We started from absolutely nothing,“ says Liverpool. Me, as a single mom, working two jobs, sleeping five hours to get my daughter where she needs to be. I worked in the daytime. I bartended at night in a very dangerous neighborhood from about 9:00 p.m. until I came home at 4:00 a.m. That was the only way I could pay for her lessons and save a couple hundred dollars a month if something happened,” says Liverpool.

“It was tough to watch, especially as the oldest child,” says Dominque Mitchell, Sachia’s eldest brother, manager, and only sibling.

“I saw some of the nights where she would have bills scattered on the ground and she was in tears. We would have close to nothing, but she always found a way,” he adds.

Mitchell also found a way to help out by receiving full athletic scholarships to college and graduate school, and getting jobs to pay his expenses so that he would not be a financial burden on his mother.

It was Vickery’s mental focus, and her ability to “shut out everything else,” however, that proved to be the game changer. The 23-year-old’s earnings are now approaching $900,000.

The Power of Persistence and Perseverance

“I just started to believe in myself a lot more especially once I broke into the top 100 for the first time in my career, that was a huge step forward for me,” says Vickery.

“I would tell people facing any challenge to just keep working hard…even on the days when things are difficult and don’t feel great, just keep going.”

In addition, Vickery added a fitness trainer and a “very consistent” workout plan which she feels have helped elevate her game and ranking so dramatically. In addition, her focus and persistent have infused her mind, and sense of being, with what she feels is one of the most critical elements to success of any kind: confidence.

“I feel a lot more confident,” says Vickery. “This year I’ve been able to compete at a higher level successfully and have had a lot of top 50 wins. These mental and performance wins build my confidence.”

This blend of confidence, calm, and curiosity about what is truly possible have captured and captivated the wide world of tennis.

About the Author
Money Mindsets

Stacey Tisdale is CEO of Mind Money Media Inc. and has reported on financial issues for nearly 20 years. She authored The True Cost of Happiness: The Real Story Behind Managing Your Money, (John Wiley & Sons).

More from Money Mindsets
More from Psychology Today
More from Money Mindsets
More from Psychology Today