Poise beyond her years
Despite being just 14 years of age, Lizette Cabrera is through to the Optus 18s Australian Championships quarterfinals. Alana Mitchelson speaks to the rising star.
Young Lizette Cabrera does not let her age hold her back from striving to reach her full potential, finding herself head to head with girls beyond her years in the Optus 18s Australian Championships at the age of 14.
After defeating New South Wales player Angelique Svinos this morning, Cabrera has earned a deserving position in the quarterfinals.
Despite making some unforced errors throughout the match, Cabrera showcased her powerful, deep crosscourt forehand, running Svinos back and forth across the court before putting away the point with an impressive smash.
Exceptionally quick on her feet, Svinos reached some low balls and made the most of opportunities to put away easy points but following a close first set 7-6(7-5) in the Queenslander’s favour, Cabrera broke ahead with a driving backhand to dispose of her opponent in straight sets 7-6(5) 6-2.
While some might find it slightly intimidating to verse an older, more experienced competitor, Cabrera merely views each match as yet another opportunity to further her skills and gain more experience on the court.
Not exposed to the same levels of pressure as her 18-year-old opponents, Cabrera is able to enter the match with a clearer mindset.
“It’s my first 18s Nationals. It’s great just to get some good experience and to play girls who are really strong as well.
“I can just try my best because it’s on them since I’m the younger player. It’s just really good experience to play the older girls.”
Lizette Cabrera was first introduced to tennis at the age of four, learning the basics of the game from her Dad who plays tennis as a hobby.
Having recently moved from Townsville to Brisbane, Cabrera is able to focus more on tennis as she has the ability to continue her schooling through distance education, leaving more time for training.
Cabrera noted that she feels the additional time spent in gaining strength in the gym has improved her stamina on court significantly.
Results such as those seen today do not, however, come without a strict training regime to ensure she maintains her fitness levels.
A typical day for Lizette Cabrera involves a 7 am wake up to hit the gym by 8 am and be on court from 9 until 11 am.
This is followed by a break for lunch and school before returning to the tennis court once again at 1:30 pm and she finishes the day’s work with a cool down and stretch at 3:30 pm.
Her tennis inspirations include Sam Stosur and, in particular, Victoria Azarenka.
“I just love how she’s really fiery on court and her determination is really inspiring. I hope to be like her when I’m older.”
Cabrera was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet some of her tennis idols at the Newcombe Medal on Monday night.
“It’s the first time I’ve been able to really dress up and I got to see Sam Stosur, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt. It was a really good night.”
Her family is extremely supportive of her tennis ambitions and take time off work to support Cabrera in her aspirations by travelling with her when she is competing in tournaments interstate.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my family. They’ve put so much money into me travelling wise and they’ve sacrificed a lot.”
Cabrera is optimistic about what the future has in store for her and she will join seven other girls who have too progressed into the quarterfinals including fellow Queenslander Priscilla Hon.
Following their wins in today’s matches, Ashley Keir, Abbie Myers and Storm Sanders along with Victorians Azra Hadzic, Zoe Hives and Belinda Woolcock will advance to the quarters, which commence on Friday morning.
“I think it’s a really strong 18s Nationals. There are a lot of strong girls still in here and it’s good to be playing.”
You can follow Lizette Cabrera on Twitter at @lizzycabrera97