Lara Walker plays first Grand Slam

TENNIS ACE: Lara Walker was given a wild card in Australian Open Juniors.
TENNIS ACE: Lara Walker was given a wild card in Australian Open Juniors.

REDLAND Bay tennis ace Lara Walker has competed in the Australian Open Juniors in Melbourne, her first Grand Slam tournament

After a strong performance in 2018, the fifteen-year-old was awarded a wild card in the competition by Tennis Australia.

The tournament began in mid-January and was held at Melbourne Park alongside the Australian Open.

On the same day as Walker’s match, both of the world’s top-ranked players, Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic played matches just courts away.

“I probably wasn’t expecting a lot of people to watch my game because there were a lot of amazing players on the other courts,” Walker said.

“I didn’t expect such a big crowd but it was good to have a lot of people there supporting me.”

Playing her first-round match against Italy’s Lisa Pigato, Walker said she was intimidated by the crowds during the first set.

“I think my nerves got the better of me,” Walker said.

“I was getting used to the atmosphere and so many people watching.

“I told myself to try and block it out and pretend it was just a normal tournament.”

Despite a first round exit, Walker said her Grand Slam experience set her in good stead for 2019.

“It definitely motivated me to try harder throughout the year,” she said.

“I know that if I train hard, I can get back there again.”

Walker’s current schedule sees her training 18 hours a week.

On January 27, Walker will head to an international tournament in New Zealand, before meeting with her coach to plan for other competitions throughout the year.

She said she hoped to return to the Australian Open Juniors next year.