Melbourne, VIC, 10 December 2018 | Matt Trollope

In her first full season on tour, there were plenty of highlights for 19-year-old Jaimee Fourlis. 

The Victorian scooped ITF titles in Canberra and Santa Margherita Di Pula and, after finishing the 2017 season at No.327, improved her year-end ranking this year to No.202, peaking at No.189 in September.

Fourlis came within a set of qualifying for the US Open and also reached the ITF $60,000 semifinal on clay in Saint Gaudens, France.

Despite closing the year on a seven-match losing streak, she felt positive about her season overall and was looking forward to another big push in 2019 – beginning with her campaign for an Australian Open wildcard this week.

How would you assess 2018?

“It was my first full year on the pro circuit since finishing school and it’s kind of been a little bit of a roller-coaster. There’s been some really high highs and of course there’s always some really low lows that kind of nobody does see. Overall I think it’s been a really good year – I did crack the top 200 for a little bit and I’m just outside now. But I’ve also learned so much along the way that I don’t think I would have ever experienced playing at home or just being at home. So definitely travelling a lot this year has made me realise the things I do need to improve and the things I am doing well.”

What are some of those lessons you have learned?

“Knowing that I can play at that level. I think now that I’ve dipped my toe into the water I kind of know what it’s like. And just growing as a person; just being more positive and learning from so many things that everyone else does, so that’s been really good.”

You performed really well in US Open qualifying – what was that Grand Slam experience like?

“It was really good; I didn’t expect myself to qualify or even win a round (laughter) so seeing how well I did, I kind of have to look back on that year and be quite happy, be content with what I’ve done. It was a great week and I really did enjoy it.”

What would be your season highlight from 2018?

“Definitely New York. But I think also in Italy, I played a 25K (event in Santa Margherita Di Pula) and ended up winning and that was a really good week – I think on the court was great but off the court was quite fun. I was travelling with Ellen (Perez) and had my coach Colin (Ebelthite) and everything was just really good.”

At the end of the year you had a seven-match losing streak. What was going on there?

“I think I was pretty exhausted, but of course that’s what playing full time is like now. Being a pro, having to play so many weeks of the year, I did get a little bit tired. But I think that’s something I can learn from next year and being able to manage myself better and something I can improve is being able to last longer and to be able to last a full year. And I think that’s more a mental thing – but at times a bit physical too.”

How did your body handle the full year on the pro circuit? Were you injury free?

“Yeah, looking back I think it went quite well. Of course there’s always little niggles that everybody does get but considering I think it was pretty good. I’m pretty happy (smiling). And grateful for all the work my past fitness coach Stef (Stefano Barsacchi) has done and now I’m working with Damien (Prasad) – so all the credit goes to them.”

How was the experience of being away from home for so long?

“At times I did like it and at times it was really difficult – sometimes it can get quite lonely when you’re not with people. But I think I adjusted pretty well and now I know what it’s like and what I have to do to be able to feel comfortable. Now that I’ve been to most of the tournaments, I know what it’s like. At times I really do miss home, but I think you’ve kind of got to sacrifice that.”

What are you targeting in 2019?

“That’s a good question … of course it’s to improve the ranking, I think that’s everyone who plays tennis, (the aim is) to get a high ranking, hopefully to be able to consistently get into qualifying of Slams, or even main draw would be really good. My ranking will get me into Brisbane qualies and Aussie (Open) qualies, so I’m really looking forward to that – I can’t wait.”