So the lack of updates on here has been due to me having my website re-done which I am happy to say is now complete! I am so happy with it and would like to say a massive thank you to my friend Johnathon Cox for all his hard work in getting it up and running! So here’s an update on how my tournaments have been going so far this year!
I left for my first events of 2016, the Australian tour on the 1st of January, landing in Brisbane on the 3rd. The first two days I was there it rained so we couldn’t practice, so frustrating but rather than sit around myself and some of the American players headed to the local Koala sanctuary where I got to cuddle a koala and hang out with some Kangaroos. It was really fun!
Once the rain finally stopped we managed to get one day’s practice in before the tournament started. My first match was crazy. I played Je yon Park of Korea, it was 35degrees and we went to 3sets. In the third set I was 5-1, 40-0 down and somehow came back to win in a tiebreak where I was 5-3 down and won 7-5. Crazy! It was three hours long, I was shattered but really pleased as although it wasn’t my best tennis, it was potentially the best fight I’ve ever had on court! I then met Sabine Ellerbrock in the next round from Germany world number 4, I honestly hardly had any energy from the day before, and gave it 100% but on the day she was by far the best player. Myself and Katharina made it to the doubles semi final, we had some great matches and I think it was the best we’ve played together for a long time.
I then flew to Sydney for the next tournament. I made it to the 2nd round there where I lost to close friend Kgothso Montjane from South Africa 6-3 6-3, but in the process I beat former world number 10 Francisca Mardonez from Chile, so I’m pleased with that. We also got to the quarter finals of doubles. But it was a very challenging week with the weather. On day three we hit the heat rule, so play had to stop as it was 40degrees, then just as it started to cool off we had torrential rain, so the whole day was cancelled. Then the next day was really back logged with some players playing three matches. We didn’t get called for our doubles quarter final until 11.45pm and finished at 1.20am. The longest day I’ve ever had on tour, and we played so well, especially considering how late it was and everyone had a long day. So I had one day free in Sydney which was nice, I’d been struggling a lot with my back this tour due to long days at the courts, long matches and a lot of travel so I took the day off to rest and recuperate, I felt very re-freshed for the next tournament.
So that brought me to the final event in Melbourne which I had been really looking forward to as I have family and friends who live close by who came to watch me play and took me out a few times, a welcome break from tour life. Unfortunately I lost first round in three sets to German number two which was a tough pill to swallow as I feel I let outside distractions get to me and effect my game. I also found it challenging as we had a two hour delay between sets due to the heat rule kicking in again. However I played with my best friend Kg in the doubles and event and we won the tournament!!!!! I was so happy a great way to end the trip. We beat the American, French and Chinese top pairings in two sets, to win the tournament, so some really great wins!
After I returned from the Aussie tour I had two weeks of training before competing in the first two British events on the tour calendar. The first one was in Preston, a tournament I have been playing every year since it first started about 10 years ago. Both tournaments are really good there as they are both run by the same ex-player who is a good friend of mine. Preston didn’t go so well for me. I felt like I was struggling to concentrate on the right things in my game and got a bit overwhelmed. However I managed to get my head straight ready in time for Bolton which went really well. In the singles I lost to world number 4 Marjolen Buis from Holland, but I played really well and was very pleased with my performance. I can feel myself getting closer to the top players every time I play them now. My best result came in the doubles, I played with fellow Brit and world number 7 Lucy Shuker. It had been a while since we played together but I was really looking forward to it and we always play great together and have a lot of fun on court, our game styles really complement each other! We had a bye to the quarters where we met the number 1 Italian pairing. It was a really great match. We won the first set in a tiebreak after coming back from 0-3 down in games, we were both quite nervous and they played really smart. However the second set was much better and we won 61 to make it to the semi’s to play the number 2 seeds from Holland/Germany. It was a similar story to the previous match really, as the first set was really close. We were down the whole time up until 4-5, where we then won 3 games in a row to take the first set 7-5, the second set was much more comfortable and we took it 6-2. Unfortunately we didn’t play the final as one of our opponents who played in the singles final fell out of her chair during the match. She hurt her wrist and grazed her legs so was unable to play, but she is fine now and came back to training this week. Not the best way to win but we worked hard to get to the final and I was pleased to get my second doubles title of the year under my belt.
So that brings me up to date, I have just returned from two tournaments in Europe. The week before last I competed in the Bielle-Bienne indoors in Switzerland, and then last week I was in Italy. Switzerland didn’t exactly go to plan if I’m honest. I was so disappointed with my results, only reaching the quarter finals. I certainly didn’t play my best tennis, I put way to much unnecessary pressure on myself which just overwhelmed me in my singles matches. I hadn’t had a match like that for a very long time where I felt I couldn’t buy a single shot. My coach said it wasn’t as bad as what I felt it was, he always says that haha, but it always feels worse when you’re in the moment and its yourself your analysing. Actually now I’ve watched it back he was right, it certainly wasn’t my best day but also it was not the disaster I thought it was, and my opponent also played great so it was a two way trade in that I had a bad day and she had a great day!
I really needed a couple of days to re-group between events as I was determined to go to Italy feeling more confident and get back on my game. I was just so disappointed as training had been going so great, so it was time to get back on it. I had 2 days back at home between events, and my friend Keegan from Australia, who visited me before the tournaments as well came back in-between. It was a great few days, we got in some really quality training sessions and had a bit of down time too, which helped me gain a bit of perspective on the week before. Keegan is a really great friend, its nice to have someone on tour who you can chat too and who really gets it when you’ve had a bad match/tournament. Paralympic year is a stressful one, so it’s nice to know other people are feeling it to. It also helped my friend brought round their puppy too the day I got home, nothing like a bit of puppy love to cheer you up, it was hard to dwell when I had him to play with, check the pictures, he’s so cute!
So we then flew back out to Italy which was a very different story. I played so well the whole week. I felt so on top of my game from my first match, hitting the ball with more commitment and confidence. My serve was great, really consistent and accurate which is what we’ve been working on. I really enjoyed being back on court! I won the doubles with Katharina, winning all our matches in straight sets, clinching my third doubles title of the year, and in the singles I reached the final. I won my first two singles rounds in comfortable sets against the number one girl from Denmark and then our British number 4. My semi final however was an interesting one. I played Mariska Venture from South Africa, I had never played her in singles before so it was a bit of the unknown, but it was such a weird score line. Both sets went the same, I was up 3-1, then down 3-5, oops! Then down again 5-6, but brought both sets to a tiebreak both times! The first was a real battle which I eventually won 11-9 and fortunately the second was a bit more comfortable which I won 7-4. I loved the match though! Really exciting, but so nerve-wracking! My next tournament isn’t until April now in Israel, which is my last event in qualifying for Rio. I am currently sat at 13 in the international rankings at the moment.