Fourlis v Aiava in girls’ 18/u final
Top two seeds Destanee Aiava and Jaimee Fourlis will compete for an Australian Open 2017 main draw wildcard when they face off in the 18/u Australian Championships final.
For Jaimee Fourlis and Destanee Aiava, there’s plenty on the line when they clash on Saturday in the final of the 18/u Australian Championships.
Not only is there the chance to become national champion in the country’s highest age group.
But there’s also a place up for grabs in the main draw of the Australian Open.
The winner of their final, a battle between No.1 and No.2 seeds, will receive a prized main-draw wildcard at Melbourne Park next year, an opportunity of which both players are keenly aware.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that tomorrow I’m in the final. Just really happy with how today went,” Fourlis said after her 6-1 6-3 semifinal domination of Maddison Inglis, who won last year’s Australian Open Wildcard Play-off.
“I think I’ve been staying composed … I’m not really thinking about the future or the past, just trying to keep it in the present.
“Just trying to take it match by match at the moment, so whatever happens tomorrow, happens. I don’t want to think too much ahead.”
Fourlis, who suffered an injury in the months leading up to the December Showdown, said she was simply trying to get back into the swing of competing regularly again.
Placing an emphasis on enjoying herself, the approach seems to have worked – she’s undefeated in five matches this week in the 18/u event.
The final will present her toughest test yet.
“She’s a great player – we’re pretty close friends off the court,” Fourlis said of Aiava.
“She has a good serve, has some big shots. She’s the No.1 seed for a reason.”
Aiava showed that with a commanding 6-0 6-3 win over Kaylah McPhee, showcasing her superior power and athleticism and pouncing on anything short from the Queenslander to win in just 47 minutes.
Like Fourlis, Aiava is on a five-match winning streak and hasn’t dropped a set so far at Melbourne Park this week.
She reached the semifinals of the 18/u event last year and was pleased to have taken a step further.
“I’ve been training really hard for this tournament so it’s good to get where I want to be,” she said.
“I think I’ve been staying mentally strong and not getting distracted. Just staying focused the whole match.
“I think I’ve improved a lot. I’ve been working on my game … (my serve) feels a lot more comfortable and I can get more power out of my action compared to last year.”
Having left junior tennis behind, Aiava is now focusing purely on the professional ranks; the 16-year-old has already cracked the WTA top 400 and reached the Tweed Heads Pro Tour final in September.
“I think it was really good experience to be able to play more pro tournaments (in 2016) – I like the transition,” she laughed.
“It would be really big (to reach the Australian Open). That was my main goal for this year, to try and prepare well for this tournament and go as far as I can.”
For more information visit the December Showdown tournament page.