Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Little Lao has the write stuff

Danielle Lao, 5-foot-3 (1.61 meters) and 120 pounds (54 kilo-
grams), has published an e-book about her four years at USC.
   Danielle Lao has been a pro for less than a year, but she already has published a book.
   Lao collaborated with Atlanta free-lance writer Rick Limpert on "The Invaluable Experience," released last December as a self-published e-book on Amazon. The 80-page work chronicles Lao's four years at USC, where she earned All-America honors in singles in 2012 and 2013.
   "It was the best experience of my life," the 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter), 120-pound (54-kilogram) Lao said last week after defeating 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Samantha Crawford to reach the quarterfinals of the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger in the Sacramento area. "I started blogging about all the great things I learned not only about tennis but life in general. I was sad that college was ending, and (Limpert) found it and wanted to turn it into a book."
   Asked what she learned at USC, the 23-year-old Pasadena product said: "Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to be able to face the music -- that's a term I like to use -- whether it's on the tennis court or dealing with people you love."
   Lao elaborated on her pet phrase.
   "You don't need things to be perfect," she explained. "It's about finding a way to maximize what you have on that day instead of complaining about what's wrong. It's not being afraid of failing."
   Maybe Crawford, 19, should read Lao's book. The 2012 U.S. Open girls champion and a semifinalist at the inaugural Gold River Challenger that year, Crawford grew frustrated by her repeated errors against Lao and stopped chasing balls in the second set of her 6-4, 6-1 loss.
   Lao was gracious and diplomatic while discussing Crawford's performance.
   "Sam is a great player," Lao said. "She has a lot of big shots. I guess mentally I was a little more focused. I've practiced with her. I played well, but she's had better days."
   Lao's greatest strength, she said, is "being patient with myself. I'm 5-3 and 120 pounds. It's not size and power. It's upstairs, what goes on in your mind between points. It's realizing that you can't play your best every day, that there's always a way to win even when you're not playing your best."
   Lao, who's working on a new book about the pro tour, has improved her world singles ranking from No. 576 at the end of 2013 to No. 402. Her rise in doubles has been even more dramatic, from No. 763 in the year-end rankings to No. 266 after reaching the Gold River semifinals with former Arizona State standout Jacqueline Cako.
    The daughter of a mortgage banker and stay-at-home mother, Lao is as polite as she is positive. She began an interview by asking a reporter to repeat his first name and ended it by saying, "Nice meeting you, sir."
   Nicknamed "The Little Giant," Lao conceded that her size is "a disadvantage, but it can be used to your advantage as long as you manage it correctly. There are days when a bigger serve and forehand would help, but if I sit around and complain, I won't have a career anymore. I'll be done."

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