Emily Appleton has had to stay very cool over the last few weeks in Colombia.
The 18-year-old Sky Sports Scholar has battled stifling heat, partisan crowds and old friends but still come home with a fourth pro doubles title in six events and is set to rocket up the world rankings.
Making her first ever pro singles final was another huge boost, not to mention playing a final live on TV. No wonder she treated herself to waffles and pizza.
Find out what else happened on tour from Emily……
After a few days of rest and a reset from four weeks in South Carolina, I was training again for the final leg of a very long stint of travelling! I was off to Colombia.
The first $15K tournament was in the city Pereira and with an altitude of 1400m the conditions were tough but they really favoured my game style.
I continued to play well in the week and got through to the doubles final (with a Colombian girl) which gave me a chance of my third Pro title. Before that final I was in the singles semi-final against a very experienced Argentine who was ranked 371 in the world. I was a little nervous as it was only my third pro semi. I had never made a final and so I was determined to make it.
It was a really tough match and I managed to win 6-4 6-2. I was absolutely thrilled! After seven matches in four days I was into my first ever singles final and another doubles final. It felt like a great accomplishment as we were playing on clay which was better suited to the South Americans with us Brits more used to a hard court!
My Colombian partner and I were playing an American and a Bahamian in the doubles final. They were the same pair I played in the semis in South Carolina a few weeks before so I knew it wouldn’t be easy. We played our best match and came through a tough three-setter to win 7-5 2-6 10-7 and secure my third doubles title in three months!
Now it was time to focus on the singles final where I was playing against my own doubles partner!
The organisers did a great job making it a special occasion for us and it was shown live on Colombian TV. I overcame a few nerves to play a great final (I even had a set point in the first set) but it didn’t quite come off and I lost 7-5 7-5. It was still a fantastic week and one I will remember for years to come.
I had promised myself a dessert if I did well and it was safe to say the Nutella waffle went down a treat! I was also hoping for a better night’s sleep after a week of interruptions thanks to Colombia’s love for Halloween parties!
From Pereira to Cucuta, which is right next to the Venezuelan border, we had police onsite the whole week ‘protecting us’. They even wanted a picture with me and one of them sent a friend request on Facebook! The conditions were a lot different with a lower altitude and it was much warmer.
With only one day’s preparation I was into the singles and after cruising the first round I faced a tricky left-handed American. I won the first set 6-2 but with windy conditions and the temperature rising to 34 degrees fatigue set in and I lost. The number of matches were getting the better of me.
In the doubles I partnered one of my best friends on the tour – Majo from Mexico. After getting through two rounds we faced the top two Colombians in the country in the semi-finals – one of them was my doubles partner from the week before! I knew it would be a big challenge but I was excited for the battle.
We went onto court at 7.30pm under the floodlights in front of a full crowd all cheering our opponents, apart from my mum and Majo’s coach!
Another victory against a Colombian and a Bolivian and I was thrilled to get my fourth doubles title in only six tournaments. It means my doubles world ranking will rise to around 550 which makes me very proud having started the trip at just under 1,000.
Another celebration was called for and I treated myself to my favourite Hawaiian pizza.
It was a very long but successful trip competing. It can be tough as a tennis player to enjoy all the travelling but it is actually one of my favourite aspects of playing on tour.
I love seeing new countries, meeting new people, trying local foods and at least trying other languages. I especially love the Spanish music in South America.
I am looking forward to a week of rest and recovery and then full training will start up again.
I will play two more tournaments before the end of the year and I’ll finish 2017 with a week’s hard training at the IMG Academy in Florida with a group of players from British Tennis so plenty to look forward to!