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Minnesota's Reigning Top Two-Sport Prep Athlete Eyes U.S. Open

Updated: 07/24/2014 7:11 AM
Created: 07/23/2014 10:14 PM KSTP.com
By: Chris Long

She may be the best two-sport prep athlete in Minnesota right now, and if the next few weeks go right - Rochester's Jessica Aney may earn the right to play on the biggest stage in one of her two sports.

The Century High senior-to-be has won her way into the final stage of qualifying for tennis' U.S. Open.

Click the video box on this page to see 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS' story on Jessica as it aired on the 10pm news

The accomplishment comes after she led the state in both goals and points during last winter's hockey season, and claimed two state tennis titles.

Despite those state titles - one in singles, one in doubles playing with her sister - Aney hasn't played high school tennis for a couple years. Instead, she's focused on national tournament play.

"It was a hard decision not to come back," Jessica says. "But my coaches knew it was the best route to get where I wanted to go."

That tough decision has helped her rise to an elite level, which delivered her to a tournament win at the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying tournament held at the University of Minnesota last month.

Aney advanced by defeating the nation's number-one ranked junior - fellow Minnesotan and good friend Alexis Nelson - in the finals.

As a result of the win, Jessica advances to the National Qualifying Tournament in New Haven, Connecticut next month.

The four-round National tournament holds a prize of a spot in the biggest and most prestigious tennis event of them all - the U.S. Open.

"It's a dream come true," Jessica says. "To only be four four matches away from playing in the US Open?  I've dreamt about that since I was eight or nine years old."

While there is that massive reward awaiting he if she wins, it's not the only reason the Aneys are excited to be making the trip.

"If she get's there it'll be neat," Jessica's father Tom says. "But there won't be any champagne corks if she gets there and there won't be any tears if she doesn't. It's about the journey, not the destination."

And Jessica's proud to say that - in a sport dominated by sun-belt superstars - the starting point for her journey is Minnesota.

"You meet people and they ask you, 'where do you train'... Florida? California?,"
she says. "But no, I play at my club in Minnesota and hit with my dad and the pros there since I was ten."

The U.S. Open National Qualifier begins August 15th at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

After this high school, Jessica will play tennis at the University of North Carolina.

But that's still a full year - and maybe several more major accomplishments - away.


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