Sullivan's game is on the upswing
IN HIS first year of competition, Jake Sullivan is making giant strides toward his dream of one day playing tennis professionally.
The 14-year-old has had a racquet in his hand for longer than he can remember, and practises almost daily on the court in his backyard, but it was not until this year he set his sights on bigger and better things.
"It used to be my grandparents' place, and now we've moved into it I can use the court almost every day,” Jake said.
"I can practise my serves and stuff on the court, it's really helpful.”
Jake credits his dad as a main reason he developed an interest in the racquet sport, and said Sullivan Senior helped with the nuances of his game.
"I always enjoyed playing and watching tennis, that's why (I keep playing),” Jake said.
"Playing tennis gets me free of all issues, and I don't have to worry about anyone else, just myself.
"My dad is a pretty good tennis player and we have a hit every now and then.
"He tells me if I'm not moving my feet properly and things like that.”
With his dad's tutelage at home, Jake has also started training with Brad Boynton as he looks to match it with the best and brightest players from the Sunshine Coast and surrounds.
"Brad's a good coach, he lets me know what I need to work on and what I'm good at,” Jake said.
"He's definitely helped me improve.”
The Sullivan/Boynton combination has only run for six weeks, but Boynton believes he has already seen big improvements in Jake's game.
"When we started (Jake) had a confident game but his strokes had no intensity,” Boynton said.
"What we're trying to work on now is improving his footwork and getting more energy and sting into his shots.
"Intensity and aggression are the big things for Jake.”
When the Junior Development Series hit Kingaroy earlier this month, Jake finished third in his division - a personal best result - and Boynton believes he can only continue to improve.
"I think it is realistic for him to finish in the top five at the end of the season,” Boynton said.
"He'd have to work hard and keep improving, but if he keeps putting that effort in and improving on that intensity and aggression, top five is definitely realistic,” he said.
Boynton said Jake's biggest asset was his consistent ground strokes, but also his willingness to listen and take criticisms on board.
"He's really coachable, trainable. Quietly spoken, but he takes everything on board really well,” Boynton said.