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LTA WEBSITE - 3/11/2006

Brits ready for lift-off Down Under

Mel South is the third seed at the first of the three events.

Eleven British women are fine-tuning their preparations for the first of three $25,000 ITF events in South Australia.

Eight of the 11 – Georgie Stoop, Natasha Khan, Naomi Cavaday, Emily Webley-Smith, Karen Paterson, Claire Rickets, Melissa Percy and Lucy Fletcher – all line up in the 64-draw qualifying event in Mount Gambier, which begins on Sunday.

British No.2 Mel South, Rebecca Llewellyn and Jane O’Donoghue have direct acceptance into the main draw, which gets under way on Tuesday.

Since arriving, the girls have been focusing on adjusting to a new time zone and adapting to the weather and court surface at the first venue.

It’s always windy here so they have to adjust and deal with it, and find a way to win however ugly it may be.

LTA coach Lucie Ahl

South, who will be the third seed in Mount Gambier behind Russian world No.83 Anastasia Rodionova and Australian Casey Dell’Acqua, says she has enjoyed a profitable week since arriving from a $50,000 event in Shanghai en route to Australia.

“The courts have been re-surfaced since I played here last year so are in a lot better condition and are a pace that I really like,” she said.

“So far, it has been very windy but I’m looking forward to getting stuck into my matches.

“There are pretty good odds that the Brits will do well.”

The group is accompanied by South’s coach, Lucie Ahl, and LTA fitness trainer Damien Roberts.

Ahl says the players must grasp the opportunity of collecting some extra ranking points before the end of the season – but that it might not be the prettiest tennis that gets the job done.

“They have it all to play for and it’s a great chance to get their rankings up ready for next year,” Ahl said.

“They’ve all been working hard, hitting twice and training twice a day along with plenty of massage and rest.

“They’ve all struggled with the jet-lag but are getting some good nights’ rest.

“It’s always windy here so they have to adjust and deal with it, and find a way to win however ugly it may be.”

After Mount Gambier, the group travels to further $25,000 events in Port Pirie and Nuriootpa.

by lta

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