February 7, 2018
I’m in a good place and really looking forward to the rest of 2018, despite the results not going my way at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.
In the singles I lost to Sabine Ellerbrock but I played some really good tennis, taking the first set 6-2.
The next two sets were tie breaks and the margins can be really small in those. I eventually lost 6-2 6-7(6), 6-7(4). It wasn’t the result I wanted, but it was the performance that I wanted as I know my level was really good in this match.
In the doubles I paired up with Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa. We’ve had some really good results in the past together but unfortunately this time we lost 1-6, 3-6 to Marjolein Buis and Yui Kamiji, the eventual champions.
That was tough because I’d beaten Buis the week before in the singles at the Melbourne Open, a warm-up tournament for the Aussie Open.
And I’d partnered Yui to victory in the doubles at the Sydney International Super Series two weeks earlier, beating top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot in the final.
Still, if I am beating women who have won Grand Slam titles, that tells me I have the ability and I just need to reproduce it time and time again.
The main thing is that I’m really enjoying my tennis again and feel like I’m improving and aiming to be the best I can be.
The last six months of 2017 had been quite frustrating for me on court. I never wanted to give up and I knew I’d find a way through it eventually to reach the right place again.
Tennis can be an emotional game, it’s important you feel good and that’s how I feel again now.
It’s worth remembering that I’m the most severely disabled player on the circuit by some distance, because I’m a T4 paraplegic. This comes with it’s own frustrations at times, as I’m closer to a quadriplegic than I am to the disability level of the other women who are on my circuit.
That means I have no core control because I have no use of my core muscles and I don’t have any hip movement to help manoeuvre the chair around the court. I have to be strapped in and leaning to reach balls is restricted by my straps.
You could say I’m at a disadvantage against all my opponents from the start.
If there were the kind of disability classifications in tennis that you see in other Paralympic sports, it is fair to say that I’d probably be cleaning up in my class, not least because right now there aren’t many other women like me on the circuit.
In fact it has been said by USA player, Bryan Barton, an experienced professional on the circuit in the quad division, that, pound for pound and taking into account my disability, I’m the best player in the world.
That was nice to hear and of course a great boost to my morale.
There is a big debate behind the scenes about introducing more classifications and now they reckon they will decide after the Tokyo Paralympics.
This comes with it’s own ramifications. In terms of the Paralympics a new division would require wheelchair tennis to fight other sports for more medal slots at a Paralympic Games and the integration of any new division into Grand Slams will no doubt take time.
And why, some ask, should they have more classifications, when I’m apparently showing there is no need, simply by competing with a degree of success against women with less severe disabilities?
I can see the arguments on both sides, however I do truly believe that further classifications would help to grow competitive wheelchair tennis, because some more severely disabled athletes are being put off by the lack of appropriate classifications for fear that they just can’t compete with the more able players.
Anyway, that debate is for the future. Right now I’m preparing for a tournament in sunny Bolton, England, before going off to the USA for a new tournament in Atlanta, then another in Baton Rouge, an event which has been elevated to Super Series status.
So there is lots to play for! I’m currently ranked World No. 7 in singles and 5 in doubles, so I’ll be going all out to climb the rankings once more.
Off the court, I’ve also been nominated for the Shaw Trust’s prestigious Disability Power List, so many thanks to Wimbledon Debenture Holders for being one of those who nominated me and I’ve also made the shortlist for the British Paralympic Association Athletes’ Commission. It would be great to see Wheelchair Tennis represented there.
It’s all good for morale, I’m feeling very positive, and let’s see if that translates onto the tennis courts once more.
I’ll keep you posted!
Browse the blog
Browse by category
Browse by date
Search the blog