HIGHLAND tennis star Isabelle Wallace has her eyes set on the world top 300 after a string of impressive recent performances.
Over the last fortnight Wallace has played back-to-back $10,000 tournaments in Madrid, reaching the semi-finals in both, and is looking to step up her opposition to boost her ranking.
Wallace, from Cradlehall, is currently ranked 645th in the singles placings, but feels she needs to compete in more prestigious competitions to climb the world ladder quicker.
Aside from her improving singles game, she also won a doubles title a $10,000 tournament in Valladolid last month, alongside Angela Fita Boluda.
A brief return to Inverness over the weekend for her mother Diane’s birthday has enabled the 20-year-old to take stock of where her game is at.
She sees definite signs of progression since changing her coach to Jonathan Moll and while she has a target in mind for her singles ranking, will not be disheartened if things happen a little slower.
“There’s not many tournaments left for the rest of the year but I’m looking at the top 300 from the start of next year,” she said. “I’ve got to the semi-finals of the last to $10,000 tournaments, but you need to win those for it to have a big effect on your ranking.
“I’m playing a $25,000 in the north of France at the end of next week and then perhaps trying to qualify for a $50,000 one after that. I’ve been training really hard and working on my game, so now we’re probably going to step up the tournaments.
“I was talking to my coach and my dad about the top 100 women in the world. Most of them are in the 28-30 bracket and the age to get to that level seems to be a lot older.
“Sometimes you think you’re running out of time but looking at it realistically, there’s still a lot of time left.”
Wallace credits her change of coach as the main reason behind her recent improvement.
She had been part of the TenisVal Academy in Valencia but a need for more specialised training prompted her to seek out the services of Moll.
She now feels her training is much more individualised and catered to improving her game, rather than the crowded environment she sometimes found at TenisVal.
“I’m really happy with where I’m at,” said Wallace, whose parents Diane and Alan run The Bakery on Tomnahurich Street. “There’s only two of us that work with Jonathan, whereas there were fitness classes at TenisVal where you’d have one coach to 20 players.
“You had to stay at the Academy too. You couldn’t go home for lunch. I’m now doing 9-11:30 on court in the morning, fitness at 12 for an hour then having a break for lunch, before doing another hour-and-a-half on court in the afternoon.
“I feel like I’m progressing. I’ve only been here (with Moll) for three months but even my dad, who hasn’t seen me play a lot, said he saw a massive difference in my game, confidence and strength-wise.”
Confidence is a big facet of any athlete’s arsenal but it is particularly prevalent for younger players.
It is an aspect of her game that she wants to improve on as she seeks to further her career.
“You see a lot of players that don’t necessarily have all the shots but their confidence level is so high, that’s the main reason they’re up there,” said Wallace.
“If you’re not confident you can’t walk on court and other players aren’t intimidated by you. That’s a part of my game I’m trying to work on.”
Wallace returns to Valencia today and steps up her training, ahead of her return to competitive tennis next week.
It promises to be a busy period for the left-hander, with a series of $10,000 tournaments close to Valencia next month and a $25,000 competition, for which he has a wildcard, pencilled in for November.
Her father Alan spoke to the Inverness Courier last week about how he felt she had improved over the last three months.
Wallace made the decision last year to change nationalities to Australia, due to greater support.