"Now baby won't you come with me
'cause down the shore everything's all right
You and your baby on a Saturday night
Nothing matters in this whole wide world
When you're in love with a Jersey Girl."
Tom Waits/Bruce Springsteen

NEW YORK -- Yeah, but if you're a Jersey Girl commuting to the U.S. Open, stuff does matter -- like traffic for example.

Such is the fortnight for 21-year-old Christina McHale.

McHale was born in Teaneck, N.J., in 1992. From ages 3 to 8, McHale and her family moved to Hong Kong, but they returned to the United States in 2000. The McHales resettled in New Jersey, this time in Englewood Cliffs.

In June 2006, McHale was named the valedictorian of her eighth grade graduation class at the Upper School of the Englewood Cliffs Public Schools. Rather than attend high school in New Jersey, she moved to Boca Raton, Fla., to train at the USTA Training Center headquarters in Florida and was homeschooled through Kaplan Online High School.

Now she's back in Englewood Cliffs, and for the first time in five U.S. Open appearances, the tournament is tossing her a bone.

"Transport takes me," she said when asked if she drives from home. "I have been playing this tournament for so many years now, and every year we have driven. Then this year we decided to ask. Let's see if transport will take us. We fit within the radius they go, so it's really nice."

The route from home takes McHale over both the George Washington Bridge and the Triborough Bridge, but transport handles toll payments.

In making the interstate journey, McHale is always at risk of rush hour traffic. She plans according by leaving early in the morning.

"I'd rather get here super early than have to worry about that, because we go over two bridges and everything," she said. "Knock on wood I haven't had a bad experience yet.

"It's actually kind of nice. I just go home and I can get away from it all, like away from the hectic, how it is here at the site. It's like kind of the best. I'm here and then I can go and get away from it all from home."

McHale is one of 19 American women in the draw, but her proximity to Flushing Meadows gives her an added sense of home-court advantage.

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McHale's opponent Tuesday, Julia Goerges of Germany, played with an ocean between her and her fans. McHale only had to deal with the Hudson River.

"This does really feel like home for me, this tournament," McHale says. "It's huge when you know you get into like a tight game or something and the crowd kind of like lifts you up and helps you get through it."

McHale defeated Goerges 6-4, 6-3 in the first round. The 2012 Olympian is ranked 114th in the world. McHale was ranked as high as No. 24 in the world last August, but a battle with mononucleosis during the last few months of the 2012 season caused a slide in the rankings.

On Thursday, McHale will return to the court versus Ukrainian Elina Svitolina. If she wins, she would set up a potential third-round matchup on Saturday against former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

Then it may be time to crank up the Springsteen. For McHale, everything would be all right.

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