The Australian Open is approaching the end of its first week of action. It has already been filled with thrills, shocks and exciting results. Two draws still to kick off are the Junior and the wheelchair tennis tournament. Scotland's Ali Collins and Gordon Reid will both be competing in their respective draws.
Ali's coach, Joe Gill is going to be giving us a behind the scenes look at what goes on at the Australian Open. Joe will also be supporting Gordon at the Grand Slam so we are exciting to hear all about what is going on in Melbourne.
"Myself and Ali set off on January 5th to start off 2017 down under. Both making our debuts in Australia and I have to admit both dealt with jet lag unbelievably well! We were kindly invited to practice for a few days by Tennis Australia at Melbourne Park, where the tournament is played but also is the national base of Tennis Australia.
After a few days practice (and a trip to the dentist for me) we headed two hours down the road Traralgon, a country town which is home to 24 acrylic tennis courts and a paper mill. Historically it is the warm up event for the juniors before the Aussie Open. The weather in Victoria is bizarre, sunny, windy, a bit of rain. Whatever the weather the sun tries its best to catch you out!! After battling winds in round 1 Ali played solid and determined tennis to overcome her opponent. Round 2 she was defeated by a local Australian but definitely showcased she’s physically and mentally prepared herself for the season ahead. A run to the quarter finals in doubles completed the Grade 1 event in Traralgon.
The next step of the journey was figuring out if Ali would gain direct entry to main draw of the Australian Open or have to go out and earn her place through qualifying. After a long complicated story Ali was seeded 1 in qualifying. There is a lot of pressure in qualifying as the qualification rounds are not played in Melbourne, but in Traralgon. As a result there are a lot of disappointed players who exit in qualifying and never taste the full Australian Open experience. With the reward on the line Ali put in a confident display and earned her spot in Melbourne. A bus journey with smiles and laughs rather than silence (either way Ali would have her headphones in as she never goes anywhere without music in her ears!!)
We have now been back in Melbourne a couple of days and had some practice time. The advantage of arriving earlier on in the month was to acclimatise to the weather but to also get used to the surroundings of Melbourne Park. Ali plays her first round singles match on Sunday against Mihika Yadav from India. Keep up to date with the latest scores/results on the Australian Open website! And I will try and keep my twitter up to date with some pics and videos, @joesgill.
Lets go Ali!!!!"
Follow all of the action from the 2017 Australian Open.