Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Re: Isabella does well, Monika R/U @ Caloundra!!
Holland puts in the hard yards
November 13, 2006
By Ian Burrows
Isabella Holland only played her first ITF junior tournament in January this year but has wasted little time making a name for herself.
Not yet through her first full season, the 14-year-old is just a couple of quality wins off reaching the world’s top 100. It’s been a meteoric rise for the Queenslander, who has her eyes set on junior grand slam success over the next couple of years.
“Over the next maybe two years I’ll focus on junior tournaments, like the junior grand slams,” she says. “And long term definitely the WTA.”
Isabella Holland: achieving success in juniors and on the ITF women's circuit.
Holland’s first ITF event was the Traralgon International in early January. She trounced Latvia’s Trina Slapeka in the opening round before she got a dose of her own medicine in the second round with a straight sets loss.
The following week in Nottinghill she was convincingly defeated in the first round before also falling in the first round at the Australian Open. However. she did put up a commendable fight, losing in three sets to a girl who went on to reach the last 16.
The win and a few losses in January was nothing more than a routine start to a junior career on the tough ITF circuit. But “routine” went right out the window in the following months. From her next four tournaments Holland claimed one title, reached two finals and made a semi.
In the tournament after her Australian Open loss, Holland went right through to the final without conceding a set. She backed up the performance with another runner-up finished the following week before reaching the last four at the Adelaide ITF.
With form and confidence on her side, Holland turned an impressive run into a stellar run when she secured her first major crown at the NSW ITF. The Queenslander then had a month’s break from competition before travelling to Morocco where the wins kept coming. Her semifinal appearance at the Tingis Cup took her win/loss record from her past 25 matches to 21-4.
Drawing inspiration from one of the greats, Roger Federer, is Isabella Holland (third right) and her top Australian junior peers.
Holland says there’s been no secret to her recent success; she’s just putting in the hard yards. This strategy really paid dividends in October when she reached the quarterfinal of the women's Kia Pro Circuit event at Melbourne Park.
“I’ve been training harder,” she says. “For the rest of this year hopefully I can crack the top 100 ITF.”
Like all players, Holland has her strengths – a ripping right-handed forehand – and her weaknesses. She says there are parts of her game that need improving if she wants to take the next step.
“(I’m working on) stepping in on my backhand and really using my serve to dominate.”
And if she’s drawn inspiration from some of the people she’s been in contact with lately, then the only way is up.
“I was hitting with Alicia (Molik) the other day, which was good. She hits a hard ball. That was the second time I had hit with her.
“I’ve met Roger Federer, he’s a really nice guy and I’ve met Lleyton (Hewitt).”
At just 14 years of age Holland’s CV is outstanding to say the least. She’s already claimed a national 16s and under title, represented Australia and reached a career-high No.112 in the world in juniors.
She’s also played, and achieved success, in numerous countries around the world. The overseas experience has been crucial to her development, but she says there’s nothing like playing in front of a home crowd at the Australian Open.
“It’s good to get an experience from both sides. Like here you might have everyone cheering for you and if you’re overseas maybe you’ll have people cheering against you. Either way it doesn’t really matter to me.
“I played the junior Australian Open this year. I did alright. I loved it.”
Travelling overseas is one of the highs of life as a professional tennis player, says Holland. She’s played in Morocco, Fiji, the US and New Zealand to name a few. And with a Swedish father, Holland has also seen many parts of Europe.
“I really enjoy travelling and it’s really good going as a team, you get that team atmosphere. I think it’s (travelling) the best part of it all.
“Just seeing all the different places, playing in different climates … and the people I travel with. (My friends) think I’m really lucky going to all different places.”
While still only a teenager, Holland has more than just tennis to worry about; school, family and friends are all high on the agenda. A year nine student in Queensland, Holland has plenty of schoolwork to keep her busy during down time on tour.
“(My) school is really understanding. I don’t mind school, it’s always good to come back from tennis and switch off.”
And when she gets home, she enjoys the simple things in life – catching up with friends, shopping and going to the movies. The Notebook and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are among her favourite flicks. And while she’s letting her hair down, she doesn’t mind digging into the ice-cream and chocolate – in moderation of course.
But letting her hair-down doesn’t happen often. Holland is too busy chasing tour titles and trying to crack that exclusive top-100 club – which at this rate won’t be long coming.