HIGHLAND tennis hopeful Isabelle Wallace has her sights on a qualifying spot at the Australian Open as she jetted out Down Under yesterday.
Inverness-born Wallace is fresh from winning her fifth tournament in 12 months and is on the move, in a bid to secure her place at one of the sport’s four majors.
A jump up to 271 in the world is predicted after her win at the Roja de Turia event in Valencia last week – a competition she entered last-minute and came through three qualifying rounds to claim. She plans to play two $60,000 tournaments in Australia, in a bid to bump up her ranking further and gain a qualification spot.
The cut-off point generally comes around those ranked between 220 and 230 in the world, however last year it dropped as low as 250. Wallace ended last year at 646 in the world but a remarkable 10 months to date has brought career-high after career-high.
$15,000 Riba- Roja de Túria pic.twitter.com/MC8vqdfBXT— Isabelle Wallace (@izzywallace96) October 21, 2017
Making the qualifying rounds in Melbourne would be extra special for Wallace, who spent six years living in Australia and represents them internationally.
“With these tournaments I’m planning to play, it can really get my ranking up there. If not, then hopefully I can rely on getting a wildcard,” she said. “It’s been the best year of my career so far and I’ve kept improving my level.”
With the Australian Open due to take place in mid-to-late January 2018, Christmas will be had on the road for Wallace as the preparation intensifies for the first major of the year.
By now, even at just 21, Wallace is well-accustomed to being away from home. Aside from the six years living in Australia, she now spends the majority of her time in Valencia training, or playing tournaments. Originally from Cradlehall, Wallace has had just one day in Scotland this year – a stop-over in Glasgow on her way to a tournament in Linz, Austria.
She changed coaches in June, leaving Jonathan Moll and the Sport and Life Academy, unhappy at the lack of one-to-one training available.
A partnership with Pablo Lozano, the former coach of Italian doubles specialist Sara Errani, has been struck up, which has seen her return to her old TenisVal facility.
“I have improved parts of my technique but specifically, my mindset has improved,” said Wallace, who switched her eligibility from Great Britain to Australia in 2015. “I have got a lot more confidence in myself and that was a big thing that was missing. I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do but that was the main thing I needed.
“My coach is so positive it’s unbelievable. It’s all the same people I was working with before and I really enjoy it.”
Wallace has picked up five tournament victories in the last 12 months, four in Spain and one in Belgium. Those wins have kept her ranking creeping up and come the end of the year, she could be 400 places better off than she was in 2016.
A target of making the world’s top 300 was set at the start of this year, something which has now been ticked off. The goals remain lofty for the left-hander, who has designs on cracking the world’s top 100 by the end of 2018.
“I want to keep improving and get into the top 100,” she said. “I have already played two WTA events, which I wasn’t expecting, but the experience I gained was brilliant. I want to get my ranking as high as possible and get into the qualifiers for all the majors.”
Family time is scarce unfortunately but her parents Diane and Alan, who run The Bakery in Tomnahurich Street, make efforts to get out and see their daughter as much as possible.
“‘Home home’ is still Scotland but I completely love it out here,” she said. “Hopefully, my mum and my nan are going to come out to Valencia soon.”