Spending a couple of weeks in Australia in January sounds like a great idea. One Tulsa teenager's trip there might prove to be the spark that starts something very special.
Right now, the repetition, forehands and backhands by the hundreds, isn't getting old. Not for Olivia Hauger, not after her first Grand Slam experience.
The tennis calendar jump starts in January at the Australian Open, the first of four majors each year, and down under in Melbourne it isn't just the pros chasing a championship.
The top juniors, 18 and under, battle for their own title. Olivia reached the quarterfinals, upsetting the top seed along the way, right next to some of those pros and other famous people.
"I bumped into (Victoria) Azarenka quite a bit, and her boyfriend Redfoo, which is quite funny because, you know, he's the head of LMFAO, which was really cool," Hauger said. "And I saw Li Na (2014 Australian champion) quite a bit. My mom bumped into (Roger) Federer."
"The fact that she put it together for three or four matches in a row at that stage when it's her first grand slam was very impressive," said Thomas Liversage, with Vince Westbrook Academy. "Now if you ask me could she have done better? I would probably say yes."
Olivia started at age seven, taking lessons at LaFortune. Now she's balancing school at Booker T. Washington, where she's on pace to graduate a year early with more than a dozen college credits in hand, and the workload necessary to become an elite player.
"A typical day for me would be coming in before school, doing, maybe some footwork before my first practice and then practicing for maybe an hour, hour-fifteen, then going to school, then practicing again for an hour and a half to two hours and then going to do fitness for an hour and a half to two hours," she said.
Her trainer, Eric Hudgens, said, "Her unique gift of being mindful in each moment, it's as if whatever her next task is, it's the most exciting one of the day, and I don't know what that is, I wish we could bottle that up and give it to everybody."
Earlier this month Olivia's world ranking shot up to 83rd. Her next goal, reach the top 10. Her next big tournaments, in Brazil next month. Her next Grand Slam, the French Open juniors, on the red clay in Paris in May, and her training has already begun.
"Obviously my all-time goal would be to be number one in the world in professionals. It's a long journey and things change for the better and for the worse, so just as of right now I'm working one goal at a time and seeing where it takes me," she said.