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SURREY COMET - 19/01/2005


New Malden tennis player Melanie South has been tipped by LTA chief David Felgate as one of four young British women to look out for in 2005.

After decades of under-achievement in the women's game, Felgate believes South and others will break into the world's top 300 before long as British standards continue to improve.

The vote of confidence came as a welcome boost to South, who saw a promising start to last year ultimately end in frustration.

"It was really pleasing to hear David say that," said South.
"He has done a lot of good for British tennis, really pushed us on and made us more professional."

The 18-year-old won her first senior tournament singles title in the Mumbai $10,000 tournament in India in April. She also saw her world ranking rise over 400 places from 857 at the start of the year to 416 by August.

However, in August, South picked up a knee injury and struggled to regain her fitness during the rest of the year.

"It was really annoying because I had such a good start to the year", said South.
"I improved under my coach Lucie Ahl and was very pleased with how my ranking improved. It was great to win in India. I really liked playing over there because it is a totally different culture and seeing all the poverty makes you appreciate everything you've got. I also got some good experience playing at Wimbledon so it was a real blow to have to pull out of tournaments."

South, who recently joined the other top British players for the winter training camp in La Manga, is now back to full fitness and raring to go.

"I'm really excited about the next year. I have got four tournaments in the UK coming up, starting at Tipton this week. My main aim is to keep my ranking going up. I'm 463 at the moment and by the end of this year I would like to be able to go into the qualifying competitions for major tournaments. For that I would need to be around the top 200, which I think is achievable if I keep working hard."

by Ross Basham

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