Ahead of the new school year, young tennis player Monica Raviraj has written about her experiences this summer which have taken her from Edinburgh to Harare, Zimbabwe. Having spent a full six weeks playing and training Monica can now count herself as the world number 1626, aged just 15:
I started my campaign to gain an International World Ranking the day the Trinity term finished. My first international summer tennis tournament was on 7th July in Edinburgh. I played well to get through the first 2 qualifying rounds, but in the 3rd round I wasn't able to beat a strong player, but still qualified as a 'Lucky Loser' into the main draw. In the first round, I played really well and won my match against a fellow top Brit. By winning that match and reaching the round of 16, I earned my first international ranking points! In the second, I struggled against a tough player and lost. Nevertheless, I was delighted to achieve my first World Ranking of 2027. This is a great starting point for my tennis career and receiving a ranking at the age of just 15 in the U18 category was a great achievement for me.
The following week, I travelled to Bournemouth to compete in another weeklong ITF tournament. I played 3 rounds in the qualifying draw and won all 3 rounds to qualify for the Main Draw. But again I was drawn up against a strong player on the fourth day. I played a very good first set, but in the end I couldn't cross the line. However, I was still happy that I managed to give the top U16 British player a hard game.
The third week of the summer holidays, I continued my travel to Belfast where I was prequalified for the main draw. As usual in the first round of the main draw, I competed against an older and stronger Italian player who was seeded number 4. However, this time I managed to reverse the result and I won my match in 3 sets. In the second round, I played against a difficult player from Ireland. I lost in 3 sets, but managed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the doubles. From this tournament, I gained ranking points from both singles and doubles which count towards my ranking!
Week 4 on July 29th, I travelled to Harare, Zimbabwe for 3 weeks of back to back tournaments. I was due to sign in and play a match on July 30th but due to flight delay, I missed my connection flight to Harare and was unable to sign in. Instead, I used that week for practice with my coach. The conditions were demanding, and that's where my fitness levels were key. There, it was a different altitude which really tested my cardio-vascular fitness. I guess all my hard work in the school gym with Mr Daalhuizen had finally started to pay off.
Week 5 at Harare, I competed in the second tournament. I won all my qualifying round matches and was through to the Main draw. I played against a player from India, unfortunately, it wasn't great day at the office for me and I lost the match. It was long and mentally challenging as my opponent was more used to those type of conditions and she was more consistent, and that's where I fell short.
Week 6 I was still in Harare and entered a Grade 3 tournament consisting of much stronger and older players. I played well in my first and second round matches, but in the 3rd round, I couldn't play to my strengths and lost my singles match! I was gutted as I knew I had a great chance of earning a lot of points which could've pushed me into the top 1000! I was devastated but I had to concentrate on what I could improve on in time to play doubles. I partnered with a player from India. I won my first round doubles match and progressed to the quarterfinals. Me and my partner took it as a challenge and played very well. In the end we lost in the third set tie breaker! It was a very close match, but on the bright side, I had earned points from the doubles category.
After a long 6 weeks of continuous summer tour, I returned home on Sunday the 20th August. I will have a few days rest and make time to catch up with school work before I return back.
I am very proud that I earned my first world ranking and at the moment I am world number 1626. I've got a tough year ahead with both academic and tennis to balance, but I look forward to catch up with my friends and also catch up with my fellow YNSA athletes and hear about all their successes.