MAIA Lumsden has certainly racked up the air miles this year. As one of Scotland’s most promising tennis prodigies, she has spent the year zig-zagging her way across Europe in her quest to ascend the world ranking list. The young Scot is merely finding her feet in the senior ranks having graduated from the junior tour just over a year ago and so is yet to reach the glitz and the glamour of the WTA Tour. Instead, the 19 year-old plies her trade on the second-tier Futures Tour and has visited some of the lesser-known tennis venues such as Varna in Bulgaria, Mragowo in Poland and Antalya, Turkey over the course of the year.
She may not be rubbing shoulders with the Maria Sharapovas and the Serena Williams’ of the tennis world just yet, but her first year in the pro ranks suggests it won’t be too long before she is mixing in those circles. Her first major breakthrough came in February, when she claimed her first pro tournament title, winning the $ 15,000 event in the Wirral, in England before following that up soon after with a doubles title, in Hammamet in Tunisia.
Lumsden may have enjoyed a successful induction to the pro ranks, but it has not, she reveals, all been plain sailing. “This season has been the most events I’ve played in a year in my entire career so it’s been a lot of travelling but it’s been really good, I’m enjoying that side of things,” she told Herald Sport at the launch of the Girls Do Sport campaign in Glasgow earlier this week.
“It can be tough though, because I’ll sometimes go away to tournaments myself, without a coach, and that’s when it can be hard. It’s during the difficult times when it’s toughest being on my own but you just have to get through those periods and remind yourself that they won’t last.
“It’s this stage of my career, when I’m playing in tournaments where there’s not a lot of people watching and there isn’t a lot of prize money, that I feel will be the hardest stage of my career. But I’m just enjoying playing so it’s good.”
Lumsden has long been touted in Scotland as a potential star of the sport. Five years ago, she won the prestigious Orange Bowl tournament in America, which Andy Murray has also won, and from that point, she was earmarked by many in the tennis world as one to watch.
However, the transition from the junior to the senior ranks, which is notoriously tricky, has opened her eyes to the physicality that is required to compete with the players at the very top of the game. A significant number of the top female players are six feet tall and hit the ball like a rocket so with Lumsden closer to 5ft 6in, she has had to adapt to coping with that game style.
“The majority of the senior women are very tall and their game styles are very much geared towards hitting hard and being very powerful whereas for me, I’m a bit smaller so I need to focus on using more variation and using different skills because that’s the way I think I have to play to beat these bigger, stronger opponents,” she said.
“I feel like I need to keep getting stronger in the gym so that I can get stronger on court. I hope the women’s game is at a place where players with more variation can do well, though. I think that’s better to watch too – you see players like Andy who have a lot of variation and I think it’s much more exciting to watch players who have a wide variety of skills rather than just the one game style.”
Lumsden is originally from Glasgow and after stints training in Amsterdam and Florida, she has returned to her native Scotland and is now based in Stirling, training as well as studying at the university there. It is a set-up that is suiting her perfectly for now and with a trio of tournaments in England coming up, as well as a possible trip to India, the current world No.603 will be adding a few more airmiles before the year is out.
“It’s a long road, I know that, but it’s been exciting to see my ranking gradually go up so I’m looking forward to making some bigger jumps,” she said.
“There’s a good group training at Stirling and there’s a good team atmosphere which is nice since tennis is such an individual sport. My target is to break into the top 500 before the end of the year and then see where I can go from there.”