Ballarat’s Zoe Hives has taken her game overseas in an encouraging move for the once injury-riddled tennis star.
Hives was denied any continuity in her game throughout 2016, but the three-month tour is already reaping positive results.
The 20-year-old began her campaign in Wiesbaden, Germany where she lost in the last round of qualifying after the match was moved indoors due to weather. But Hives’ hit her straps in Dunakeszi, Hungary last week where she won through qualifying to the main draw and enjoyed two big victories over highly-ranked opponents.
Hives knocked off fellow Australian and the grand slam experienced Storm Sanders in straight sets before defeating Tereza Smitkova, who has been ranked as high as 57 in the world, in three sets.
She said those wins were “big” for her confidence, particularly against her well-credentialed compatriot.
“I was pretty excited when I won that, because I haven’t really got all that close to her before. To beat Storm was big for me as I’ve played her a few times before and haven’t really looked like it,” Hives told The Courier.
To beat Storm (Sanders) was big for me...I haven’t really got all that close to her before.
“She's played Aussie Open and those other big Australian tournaments in January.”
Hives is expecting to return to home soil in late-July and is now preparing for her next tournament in Essen, Germany.
The main intention for the trip is to prepare her both tactically and physically for what will hopefully be a successful and injury-free run through the Australian summer. Hives admits it is a timely process keeping her body up to the rigours on international tennis, but so far the signs are pleasing.
“So far this year my body has been holding together pretty well.
“A big part of this trip is to get through in one piece and be fitter than when I went away. Of course it would be nice to win and go well, and that’s part of it, but this is all building for September and later in the year for the Australian tournaments.”