When Christina Jordan was three-years-old, she saw what she thought was an athlete holding a baseball bat receiving a gold medal on television.
“I told my dad (Chris) I wanted to do that and get a gold medal,” said the West Bloomfield sophomore.
Chris Jordan went to the TV and found out it was a tennis racket and not a baseball bat the athlete was holding.
Thus started the tennis journey of Christina: Six years of teaching herself, then moving to the prestigious Saddlebrook Prep High School in Wesley Chapel, Fla., as a freshman, then to Atlanta, Ga., where she lived with the Jenkins family, a tennis juggernaut, and back home because “I missed my family and my 13-year-old twin brothers, Christopher and Christian,” she said.
Jordan returned from Atlanta in January, just in time to be eligible for the spring tennis season.
Now playing high school tennis for the first time, she’s a threat to be a factor in Division 1 at No. 1 singles. Jordan won her first eight matches before losing to Clarkston star and Michigan State-bound Lexi Baylis on Tuesday in three sets.
“I’ve gotten a ton of support from the team and they’ve helped me come a long way,” said Jordan. “Usually I have so many girls cheering against me. Now I have my whole team cheering for me and that support is really great. All the girls on the team are terrific and the coaching staff is amazing. Our team captains have helped so much.”
Coach Josh Molino, who also coaches the boys team at three-time defending state Division 3 champ Birmingham Detroit Country Day, said Jordan has the type of game that should make her an immediate threat, packing a powerful punch in her 5-foot-7, 130-pound frame.
“Christina is blessed with tons of athleticism,” said Molino. “She has great instincts on the court, and I think one of the most important things that hopefully this year being part of a team and part of a school will bring her that intensity and desire to be the best in the state. Not that she wouldn’t as an individual in the USTA’s, but when she goes out there with that fight and focus on the win she’s a really tough player.”
Jordan’s biggest adjustment coming back to Michigan was getting court time during the cold winter months.
“I loved it down there,” she said of Florida. “I got here and I saw this weather and it wasn’t pleasant. In Florida I got a lot more hitting in. There were a lot of free courts. When I came here it was hard because you had to find a court and it was always booked up and you couldn’t find anywhere to hit. Now that it’s summer I can get outside more.”
The summer after her freshman year she got a call from the Jenkins family to come live with them. “I thought it was a great opportunity,” she said.
Jackie and Brenda Jenkins have nine children. Son Jarmere Jenkins, 23, was the 2013 Intercollegiate Tennis Association national player of the year at the University of Virginia after being ranked No. 1 in singles and No. 2 in doubles. He also was named Atlantic Coast Conference male athlete of the year.
Jackie Jenkins Jr., played at Northwestern and Jermaine played at Clemson.
“What a great way to surround myself with a top athlete such as him,” Jordan said of Jarmere. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience to be around someone like him.
“They’ve all had great tennis experiences. The whole family did well. It helped me see the other lifestyle that was out there. For example, the difference between juniors and pros. When I was surrounded by a guy like him, a pro being right out of college, you saw how serious he was and the type of mentality he had, which definitely helped me in becoming the player I am today.”
After six months with the Jenkins family Jordan returned home.
“Being on the road and traveling it does get tiring,” said Jordan. “I wasn’t really seeing my family. I guess I got kind of homesick. I thought it would be a great opportunity to play high school tennis and try it out.”
Despite Tuesday’s loss, Jordan planned to get to Midland at the end of the month, the site of the state finals.
“I worked her previously, my dad and I,” said Molino. “And after I got the job at West Bloomfield we made sure she was eligible. She has been fantastic and I think she’s going to have a great high school career. She has definitely put herself in that upper echelon. That Division 1 draw is loaded.
“This weekend she has the league tournament. She’ll see Lexi again, and Mollie Fox from Bloomfield Hills and Labina Petrovska of Birmingham Seaholm.”