To be successful in your chosen sport, it often pays to start early. Alanna Harrison is giving it her best shot in tennis, with hopes to emulate the likes of Serena Williams. Focus recently spoke with her about her hopes for the future.
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
We moved here in June 2010 because my Dad is from here and it’s for family purposes. My parents decided to move back here because there are a lot of opportunities for us kids, academically and outside school.
Where did you live before moving to Coffs?
Samoa. I was born there. We moved to Coffs Harbor when I was 6 years old
When did you start playing tennis?
October 2010 when I was 6 years old
Are there enough competitions locally or do you need to travel?
I travel a fair bit for competitions because there aren’t that many here.
What do you see as your biggest strength as a player?
I have learnt to stand up for myself if I face players who are not honest with their calls on the court. I used to cry and let my opponents get away with it, but I have learnt to be strong and deal with it. My forehand is my secret weapon.
Are you an offensive or defensive player?
I think I am both.
Do you have any rivals you would like to beat?
Yes. I have a few and they live in big cities. Also the girls who are above me in the Australian Rankings.
What advice would you give to other young people who are thinking about taking up tennis as a sport?
Well I am a young player myself and at the moment, I’m enjoying playing the sport and sometimes my Mum tells me that I should have fun and enjoy the game. Don’t get down if I play bad, which is true sometimes. So when I think about it, when I’m happy on the court, I play so good. My advice to younger people who are thinking of taking up tennis is to make sure you are well prepared mentally and physically, have fun and make as many friends as you can. It does help you when you go to tournaments when you know many people. I’m having the best time of my life with tennis. I get to travel, see my friends and most of all, play the best sport in the world.
What do you love most about the game?
I love the challenge I get from playing different girls. Also I make a lot of friends throughout the years from playing tennis. Most of my friends are from tennis.
Where is your favorite place to play?
Big cities. I’ve played in Melbourne, Brisbane, Tasmania, Adelaide and Sydney and I think the best out of all of them is the Rod Lavers courts in Melbourne. Big courts and excellent facilities including play room for us when we aren’t on the court.
How often do you train?
I have 1 hour of private lessons a week (1/2 hour on Monday and ½ on Tuesday) and a 2 hours squad a week. Overall, 3 hours a week. It’s not much compare to my friends in big cities.
How often do your friends train who live in the city?
All of them tell me they train 6 or 7 days a week.
Who coaches you?
Tony Polack. I’ve had him since I started playing 6 years ago.
What has being your best result in competition?
When I beat the number 5 girl in NSW and 7 in Australia in the State Championships in Cessnock in April this year. That was a good match
Recently you had a chance to play against a few older established players, can you tell us a bit about that experience?
I’ve noticed my confidence has built up from the experience, it has have given me a great way to improve my game. The older girls have similar ways of playing, similar to the girls I play in the Gold or Platinum tournaments, because they hit hard and know how to place the ball on the court. It makes me think and play harder. And of course I get nervous before I step on the court that’s why I never look into the draw when I have tournaments, my mother does it for me. I only find out whom I play on the day. I don’t even watch how they play. I work out how when we warm up before the match.
Who is your favorite tennis player and why?
Serena Williams, she serves well and has a good way of coming back to win a match. I seem to do that a fair bit during my previous matches. I hope one day I can serve as fast and hard like her and maybe have her muscley arms.
If you could play a game of tennis with anyone in the world who would it be and why?
I would choose, Tony Polack, my coach, because he’s the best and I would love to play in a tournament with him and he could tell me what to do on the court.
What are your hopes for the future?
I aim to be a sports teacher or even a coach. If my tennis takes me any further then I would keep on pursuing it to become a professional player.
Thanks Alanna and good luck for the future.