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THIS LOCAL LONDON - 15/04/2007

Slump in form will make Melanie stronger

New Malden's Melanie South will come back a better player from her current slump in form, according to Britain's head of women's tennis.

The 20-year-old has made a torrid start to 2007, winning just one of her last 11 matches.

The former Nonsuch School student reached the second round of Wimbledon last year, secured her first $25,000 title and peaked at 166 in the world rankings.

But the dip in form saw Britain's number two singles and doubles player this week omitted from Federation Cup captain Nigel Sears' team for this month's round-robin style competition in Bulgaria.

The LTA's Carl Maes, former coach to one-time world number one Kim Clijsters, believes South should not panic.

"If you have a really good year, the next year is always more difficult because you have to do as well - if not better - just to maintain your rankings," he said.

"She has had a difficult start and maybe part of that was because she lost some continuity with the coaching staff here and we have to hold our hands up to that.

"We cannot fault her for effort, but mentally she is lacking a bit of confidence in comparison to last year when she won a lot more matches.

"She needs to get through this rough ride, go into the uncomfortable zone and then surpass it to come out on top."



by Stuart Amos



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