Disappointed and frustrated to have missed a chance to progress beyond the opening round in the Junior Australian Open girls’ singles, Eliza Long hopes to learn from her defeat to Hong Kong’s Katherine Ip.
Just days after earning her spot in the main draw with a fighting victory in the qualifiers, Long’s nerves got the better of her in a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) loss.
“I’m pretty disappointed with how I played, actually,” the 17-year-old said.
“I don’t know about the next round, but my match (on Sunday) I definitely could have won. It was just nerves and I lost my confidence.”
Ip’s consistency meant Long found herself trying to force winners and the Knowsley teenager quickly went a set and 5-1 down.
“She didn’t attack at all, she got every ball back and scrambled and lobbed it up a lot; I was just making way too many errors,” Long said.
“She played 70 per cent of her shots to my forehand, which – when I get nervous and I’m not having a good day – is the side that can let me down, my backhand is my better side.
“With her I had to dictate the play the whole time, literally every point it was either me hitting the winner or me making the mistake.”
From 5-1 down, Long found her range and reeled-off five straight games – even earning a set point on Ip’s serve at 6-5 up.
“I certainly picked up and the crowd was getting into it then, I was getting really pumped up at that stage,” Long said.
“That was the one moment I can look back and think I was really enjoying it out there.”
But after Ip held serve, Long’s confidence deserted her in the tiebreak.
“I just got to the tiebreaker and started to make a few more errors again,” she said.
“I did two doubles (faults) in the tiebreaker, I don’t think I doubled until 5-all in the second set.”
It was the second year in a row Long has fallen at the first-round after losing in three sets to Japan’s Risa Ozaki in 2012.
“I’m always going to be disappointed about not taking this opportunity to get further into the draw, but I had the chance of not even being there. I was happy being out there and having another shot,” Long said.
The Catholic College Bendigo student will turn her focus to her year 12 schooling following the first-round singles and doubles losses on Sunday.
Long is currently weighing-up which US college to attend to further her studies and tennis career next year.