With expertise to burn and a steely work ethic to match, teenage tennis stars Talia Gibson and Taylah Preston are main WA’s subsequent technology of WTA hopefuls.
Already one of the best gamers in Australia for his or her age, the dynamic duo have been turning heads on the International Tennis Federation junior circuit for the previous few years.
Recently named twin winners of Tennis WA’s Junior Tennis Star Award, Gibson and Preston have each held the rating of primary in Australia for his or her 12 months of start (2004 and 2005 respectively) inside the previous 12 months.
With the summer time of tennis on the horizon and Melbourne Park beckoning the nation’s prime gamers, the pair are hoping to snare a spot within the Australian Open qualifying rounds.
However, regardless of their spectacular resumes there’s a shared understanding between the 2 coaching companions that there’s a lengthy technique to go till they attain the highest of the mountain.
“When you first get to number one, it’s a bit overwhelming,” Gibson mentioned. “It’s a really good achievement; I’ve worked so hard to get here, but it’s also about knowing I want to work harder, improve on that ranking and go and play worldwide.”
“Obviously it’s a good feeling when you’re ranked number one for your birth year and you feel like all of your hard work has paid off a little bit, but it’s just the start of where you want to get to eventually,” Preston mentioned.
Gibson started the 12 months with a career-high ITF junior rating of 39 on the earth and regardless of being simply 17 years previous, made her mark within the native State League this 12 months, successful the ladies’s MVP award final season after serving to Peppermint Grove end as runners-up.
The Alfred Cove resident has an ITF J2 (the third-highest worldwide junior grade) win at Tweed Heads to her identify, in addition to finals, semi-final and quarter-final appearances at varied J2 and J1 occasions in Korea, Fiji and Thailand.
In 2019, she gained under-16 Australian Championships singles and under-18 Australian Championships doubles titles at Melbourne Park earlier than representing Australia on the under-16 WTA Future Stars occasion in China, the place she reached the semi-finals
Preston already has 9 ITF titles beneath her belt (three singles and 6 doubles), together with all 4 on supply in Darwin earlier this 12 months.
Like Gibson, the Greenwood Tennis Club participant loved a profitable 2019, successful each the singles and doubles on the under-14 Australian Grasscourt Championships after which repeating the feat on the under-14 Australian Championships.
The Hocking product travelled to Shenzhen with Gibson for the WTA Future Stars occasion and reached the semi-finals of the under-14 class.
The pair mentioned enjoying abroad had been illuminating and confidence-building.
“It was a really good experience to see the players overseas and where my level matched with them and how I’m going,” Preston mentioned. “It helped me in my development.”
“When you get to see and play against all these different players around the world, you see you’re matching all these players,” Gibson mentioned.
“It does give you a lot of confidence; it’s not like you’re behind or anything. It just motivates you to work even harder.”
While the outcomes communicate for themselves, those that have labored with Gibson and Preston are fast to sing their praises in terms of their work ethic.
They have a powerful supporter in one other Perth product, former doubles world quantity 52 Jessica Moore.
Moore, a 12-year veteran, mentioned she had tracked the duo’s progress over the previous couple of years, and their work ethic and a spotlight to element stood out.
“They both compete unbelievably well,” she mentioned. “I’ve seen them both fight through matches, which is good to see, especially at such a young age.
“They both hit incredibly big balls; they’re physical, but what I like most is they give it a crack and compete.
“Every drill we do, they’re giving it their all and that’s not always the case at this age. Every session, they’re going for it on the practice court; they know it’s going to improve them and they’re thinking long-term.”
WA nationwide growth squad coach Tom George works intently with the pair and known as them “special” abilities, noting their work ethic and on-court aggression.
“Taylah is an aggressive baseliner who’s got great intensity, is very professional, trains the house down and has big punishing ground strokes,” he mentioned.
“She has won seven ITFs over the past two years and is moving from strength to strength.
“Talia’s game style is a little bit different; she also possesses big powerful ground strokes but has more of an all-court game.
“She’ll slice backhands, slice serves, come to the net in transition and do some volleys, but she changes direction well.”
Brad Dyer, who has coached Preston since she was simply eight years previous, mentioned the identical attitudes that stood out when he first encountered her remained robust right now.
“She always had a really strong work ethic, always put in, was always on time; the little things that make a quality athlete were always in place,” he mentioned.
“Fighting qualities, excellent attitude, I think she’s got a world-class backhand. The attitude is unreal.”
Perspective is required when discussing the futures of the 2 children; Gibson is just ending highschool this 12 months, whereas Preston nonetheless has a pair extra years to go, and it’s far too early to pencil each in as long-term WTA gamers.
But Moore, who performed on the tour as just lately as 2020, firmly believes Gibson and Preston have what it takes.
“With the strengths they have and the way they go about their business, they can be as good as they want to be,” she mentioned.
“I’ve seen the level of the top players on the WTA tour and I think they (Gibson and Preston) hit an amazing ball, so it’s pretty much up to them and if they want to take it where they want to, I think they can do it.”
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