Junior Academy: Watson’s Wisdom
Originally published on: 22/07/13 00:00
Did you find the transition to the senior game difficult?
The girls that have come through from juniors from my age category have kind of been all sorts. Some of them you wouldn’t expect, some of them you would. You can’t always tell. I found the transition quite comfortable because I didn’t see added pressure being in the seniors. I just played the same and thought the same, just winning and getting better but I think some see it as a real tough step to make. It will start out tough, yes, but I didn’t struggle with it too much.
How did you cope with the expectation?
I don’t feel like I have had a lot of expectation on my shoulders. I think that’s kind of the good thing about having Laura [Robson] around a bit. There is a bigger hype around her, which has kind of taken attention away from me, which I think is good and bad. But I don’t feel that much pressure to be honest, I just feel the pressure from myself and how I expect myself to do.
What was the toughest thing about junior tennis?
Being a junior you’re at that age when you’re interested in boys and whatever, so I think it was the hardest time to keep focused, realise you can do this as a career and it’s tough. I thought you had to be at the very top to make it in the senior game. I was alright, I got to 11 in the world and I thought, ‘I’m quite a good junior,’ but will I make it in seniors? And then when I won the junior US Open I thought, ‘That’s it, you know, I’ve got to take my chance.’ Without that win I may not be here now.
Did you ever have to deal with crazy parents on the junior tour?
Oh yeah! I once had a parent calling me names. I’m this 15-year-old girl and she’s shouting stuff at me like, ‘You’re so rubbish,’ and calling me a cheat. It was kind of hard to block out because that was one of my first experiences but I’ve kind of learned to deal with it better now. There are some crazy parents out there. I’m glad I don’t have crazy parents.
How difficult was it to make sacrifces for your career?
Yeah, it’s a lot tougher when you’re younger. I really missed just hanging out with friends and going to birthday parties and I would see pictures on Facebook and feel a bit left out. But at the end of the day I am getting a bit older and more experienced and I’m realising, you know, it’s so cool what I do and the rewards I get for doing well are so much better than just going out for one night. How do you approach matches against friends? It’s tough. I’ll see a draw and it will be a friend and I wouldn’t really want to play [them] but that’s the draw that’s been handed to me. I just go in and give it the same as I would whoever else it may be.
Do you set goals for yourself?
Yes, I do. I set goals every year and half way through the year I analyse them and see if I need to adjust them or change them and I always do them with my dad every year. I think it’s so important. It gives you a target to reach for and if you don’t have a goal then I guess you’re just kind of fl oating. What type of goals do you set for yourself? They’re all sorts of goals. There’s a whole list. For example, I’ll rate myself on my professionalism and things like that and then I’ll give myself targets like ranking and numbers.
What advice would you give to juniors looking to follow in your footsteps?
If you love the sport and you have fun doing it try really, really hard to do the best you can because a tennis career is so short. Make the most of it and then you can have the rest of your life to do whatever you’ve missed.
Watson's Wisdom appeared in our July issue of tennishead. To read the full interview, get your hands on a copy of Volume 4 Issue 3.