Despite having to take things a little easy due to overcoming injury, Jaimee Fourlis has still had a pretty incredible year.
A decade has passed since the now 22-year-old Preston local started playing comps, but she has already had her name etched on a tennis court in Greece.
The Trichopoulos Tennis Club in Agrinio named their brand new court the “Jaimee Fourlis COURT” during the tennis player’s recent visit to Greece.
“It’s really cool, I honestly didn’t expect it! I went to the club with my aunty because at the time I was a little injured in Greece and I needed somewhere to train and my aunty told me there was a club up the road. I had a couple of hits with her and Nick, the coach and owner of the club messaged me on Instagram saying ‘Hi, I didn’t realise you were a tennis player and I would love to meet you and ask you a question when you come back’,” Fourlis told Neos Kosmos.
Fourlis’ dedication has served her well, finding herself travelling across the world to compete in some of the most prestigious tournaments. Being a professional athlete gave her the golden ticket to keep moving forward.
“We were just very lucky to be able to travel and to leave the country. Other Australians were in Europe that spent eight months away from their families and away from home so it was really tough at times,” Fourlis said.
Being away from family, regardless of the amount of time always proves challenging for the young Greek-Australian tennis player, but Fourlis makes sure that doesn’t get in the way of her game.
“I’m not home so it’s a little bit hard, but I make sure I have that connection and that drive. My family will always be there for me and will always push me and I will always do the same. My parents have sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am in terms of time and money, so I think I owe it all to them and hopefully like I can give it back to them when hopefully I make top 100 in the world or top ten. That’s the ultimate goal,” she said.
Fourlis talks playing major tennis stars, the challenges of being on the road and harnessing her Greek ‘fire’.
What drew you to tennis?
My dad played just casually with mates up the road. He was into all sports, but tennis was one of his passions. He told me stories where I would be up in the middle of the night with him when I was really young watching like Wimbledon or the French Open and then I have an older sister that played, then I just followed their footsteps and my younger sister also plays, so it kind of runs in the family.
I’ve loved it ever since. When I was four years old, I can’t remember this but I’ve been told I used to stand at the back of the court and just swing my racket around.
It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?
Sometimes I listen to music. I’m not a major music person, but I’ll just go through my routines, like warming up for the match, trying to prepare myself mentally, being positive, and then once I step on the court it’s all about just being competitive and trying to win. Any opportunity I have to win I’m going to try and take that on, but I don’t really have a specific pre-match routine but it might be like brushing my teeth at the same way or combing my hair, putting the right shoe on before the left, those little things, but I don’t really have anything specific.
Top three training songs?
I like anything with R’n’B. A lot of the guys in the gym like their bangers so I have to put up with that, so that’s it. I’m not too fussed.
What do you find most challenging about the game?
It is very lonely at times. I don’t think people realise that there’s a lot of hard catches. Tennis is a very physical and mental sport, so there’s a lot of skill and a lot of precision to it that can be very tough. I think you have to like stick to it and ride the waves at times. Then of course injuries are part of the game, unfortunately, but just trying to adapt through adversity, I think that makes you become a better tennis player and a person. I think you can learn a lot through playing tennis.
What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?
There’s been a lot! Playing the Australian Open here where like all my friends and family could come watch me because I’m never really home, they’ve never really had the opportunity to see me play and some of my friends are school friends so they don’t really know about tennis, so that’s really exciting. The French Open against [Caroline] Wozniacki. That was a really big highlight in my career and I ended up getting a set of her and had opportunities in the match and Rafa [Rafael Nadal] was actually playing after me, so that was also really exciting. There were fans coming in and I didn’t know who they were coming to watch but that was a really cool moment.
When I was younger I represented Australia and of course my Greek background has always been coming through, I’m very feisty on court, so it shows. I’ve had a lot of memorable experiences; playing Wimbledon, I’ve played the US Open and just been able to travel the world. It’s been amazing.
How has tennis impacted your life?
At times it’s been the highlight of my life and at times it’s been really hard where for many years, since I was 12 years old I missed birthdays, I missed weddings, I missed really special occasions. I’ve missed my sister’s birthday every year since I was 12 and I’m 22 years old.
So there are things like that where you have to sacrifice a lot to become a tennis player, but hopefully at the end of the day there’s an upside to it.
What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?
I do think I’m stronger than I think I am, mentally. More importantly, I think I don’t give myself enough credit for how strong I am so I think I just need to trust myself even more.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
Hopefully next year in terms of tennis I would love to be top 150 or around 150 in the world, singles and in terms of like doubles I’d like to have my ranking around the same, 150. I know it’s a bit far away, but in two or three year’s time I’d like to be able to play at the Olympics. That’s been a dream of mine since I was really young. I think they’re the main goals that I’m looking to achieve within the next couple years.
What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?
I love football, the AFL, I go for Collingwood.
Favourite way to unwind after a game?
I love to watch Netflix and talk to my family. I’ll talk to my friends. When I’m on the other side of the world I like making sure I have that connection with people who are still at home. I think that’s really important for me, just keeping the balance. It is tough at times, but being able to go sightseeing, I think I’m very lucky to be able to do that. One of those three.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
I just think to travel again and to play competitive tennis throughout the entire year. Unfortunately I’ve had a couple of injuries the last couple years so to be injury free and just to play tennis and achieve my goals and do what I love to do, which is to compete.
What is something you want to be remembered by?
I think my fighting spirit on court, my competitiveness. I think that ‘Greekness’ in me comes out on the court. Which is a good thing that just needs to be controlled, but also off the court, being a very humble and kind person. Just being there for others, I think that’s a trait in me that I will always have. I’m two very different people on the court and off the court.