Jaimee Fourlis will contest her second straight Grand Slam event after winning a wildcard into the main draw at Roland Garros. Jaimee, still aged 17, produced a commanding performance to beat Isabelle Wallace in the final of the French Open Women’s Wildcard Play-off on Sunday in Paris. Jaimee, who won the AO Wildcard Play-off in December before advancing to the second round at Australian Open 2017, got past Priscilla Hon, Arina Rodionova and Wallace to secure the prized main draw berth.
It has been amazing to watch Jaimee’s tennis journey from up close with the Fourlis family (Elly, Jaimee & Krissy) all training at Vida Tennis for more than a decade. There have been a lot of people involved in her journey and its great to see the journey is far from over. At the age of 17 to play in the Main Draw of the first two Grand Slams of the year is a great platform for a promising career on tour. And on top of all this, year 12 studies are still a priority for her.
After starting training with Vida at the age of 6, Jaimee has developed her game at the Veneto Club in Bulleen working with many of the Vida team. In her early teens, Jaimee started working with the Tennis Victoria & Tennis Australia programs while continuing her connection with Vida Tennis. She is currently coached by Tennis Australia High-performance coach, Beti Sekulovski, who has been a great mentor and coach over the past year.
Jaimee is also a member at the MCC Glen Iris Valley Tennis Club and plays Premier League for the club each year.
Turing our attention to Paris, Jaimee progressed through to the final of the Wild Card playoff with strong wins over Priscilla Hon & Arina Rodionova. The final had another little twist when matched up against Isabelle Wallace. Isabelle also trained at Vida Tennis as a junior at the MCC Glen Iris Valley Tennis Club and played doubles with Jaimee’s sister Elly. They are pictured below after winning the MCC Glen Iris Underage Doubles Gold JT in 2008. Isabelle is now based out of Spain and continues to climb up the rankings and was always going to be a formidable opponent in the final.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I’d like to thank Pratty (Nicole Pratt) and everybody for giving me the opportunity to play in the wildcard play-off. And of course winning it is something really special,” Fourlis said after her 6-3 6-1 victory.
“I did it once before at Melbourne Park and just to do it here in Paris is an amazing feeling, on clay, which I love.”
Fourlis began strongly, taking the opening game with and off-forehand winner and breaking for 3-1 after a fabulous fourth game during which she belted two drive-volley winners and a backhand winner to break to love.
She was soon ahead 4-1 thanks to an ace on game point, but here Wallace worked her way back into the match, enjoying a settling service hold in the sixth game and then breaking in the next game when errors began to leak from Fourlis’ racquet.
Yet Fourlis regained her composure and cut out the errors, breaking serve for a 5-3 lead and serving out the set following an athletic point that showcased her impressive blend of offence and defence.
“I played really well the first couple of games. Not really sure how she was feeling but I was of course a little bit nervous, but comfortable because I’d been in the position before down in Melbourne,” Fourlis said.
“I dropped serve – didn’t really bother me. Just thought to let it go. I imagined to myself that I had just held serve, so then she was serving to stay at 4-4. (I was) just patient and stayed calm and stuck to my routines.”
The turning point in the second set game in a thrilling third game which extended to five deuces and during which both players has game- and break-point opportunities.
When Fourlis eventually got through it, she didn’t drop another game, streaking to the finish line all the while demonstrating her aggressive shot-making instincts.
“I thought throughout the whole match that it was going to be tough and she was just going to keep fighting so I just had to stick to my game and play every point 100 per cent,” Fourlis said.
“And I think that (third) game was pretty crucial but so was every other game in the match where we both had deuce points and break points.
“I had a great support team – had my coach Beti (Sekulovski) talking with me before the match just to keep me calm and tell me what I needed to do.”
Her attention now turns to the main draw at Roland Garros, for which she has a week to prepare.
“I’m super excited (smiling). I’m over the moon. I love clay and love everything about this tournament,” she said.
“Whoever I get (in the first round) is whoever I get. It’s luck of the draw, but I’m really excited. Can’t wait.”
From all at Vida
Good luck Jaimee, we will be watching you!