Fresh off one of her biggest weeks on the court, Zoe Hives is eyeing the Australian summer.
The 22-year-old took out the Canberra International on Sunday, taking home her biggest prize packet and in turn, a career-high ranking of 215 in the world.
The impressive form will allow Hives her best opportunity yet to qualify for some of the biggest hardcourt events – none more so than the Australian Open.
Hives will now move into a training block, with her sights set on the Australian Open wildcard playoffs and potentially the qualifiers.
Last year Hives played doubles and mixed doubles at the Australian Open, losing in her opening matches on both occasions.
Nonetheless, it was great taste of grand slam tennis and if she can remain fit, she is in the sort of form that will give her every chance of making strides on last year’s display.
“It sets me up well for the year,” Hives said.
“I really haven’t played that much...to have that success, I’m really happy to get back to that form really quickly.
“I started the year really well, but then I barely played for six months.
“I’ve played pretty well, but there’s still a lot of improvement there. I didn’t play my best, so it’s good to know that I definitely have the ability to take the next step.”'
Hives said she would have to assess her tournament schedule before guaranteeing an appearance at the Ballarat Open, which she won last year.
She said she thoroughly enjoys returning to her home tournament, but there is a chance it could run too close to the wildcard playoffs – but it was something her and her coach were discussing.
Hives defeated ninth-ranked Australia woman Olivia Rogowska in straight sets in the final of the Canberra International.
While the end result of the week was extremely pleasing, she said there was still plenty to improve on.
Adjusting to the altitude and therefore the ball speed and flight made it a challenging week – Hives saving a match point in her quarter-final.
“I played really well in the final, but leading up to the final it was a bit tough with the altitude and the balls, it was tough to get the feel.
“I felt a bit lucky to even make the final...but I was happy, and then brought out my best match of the tournament.”
The Ballarat Open, a platinum event, will be held from December 18-22, alongside the under-18s Gold Australian Money Tournament.