Valentina Ivanov ended 2018 on a high note by winning single’s titles at the West End Cup, 18s National’s & NZ Residential’s. 2019 brought a new level of competition as Valentina made her first appearance in a WTA tournament, ASB Classic in Auckland. She went on to beat Paige Hourigan to reach the 2nd round of the ASB Classic Women’s. Facing a tough second round match, Valentina lost to Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands. In Valentina's match against Schoofs she was very competitive but lost an early service game to trail 2-4, from there she fought hard to level at 4-4 but the relentless pressure against a player who has consistently been ranked between 100-200 took its toll. From here the match was one sided but remains an excellent experience.
Upside: Valentina and her coach Nathan Carter were lucky to get the opportunity to practice with Caroline Wozniacki throughout the ASB Classic which provided them with a real insight as to the intensity level required to compete at the highest level.
At the completion of the ASB Classic Valentina returned to the training to prepare for the qualifying event at the Australian Open to be held in Traralgon. On arrival she was met with a 40 degree heat which saw a delay in play. After 2 days training in the heat Valentina played Dakota Fordham (USA), a player she dominated from the outset winning 6-1 6-1. In the 2nd round Valentina was up against Polina Kudermetova (Rus) the 3rd seed. Kudermetova came out hitting winners from all areas of the court and as a result winning the first set 6-1. The 2nd set Valentina lifted her game and force her opposition into errors reversing the score from the first set. With a lot riding on the match the Russian girl came out much the same way as the first set going up 2-0 before Valentina again found her rhythm and started to move her opponent around the court. With excellent depth and control Valentina took the final set 6-4 for a place in the main draw.
In the Junior Australian Open main draw Valentina came up against Mananchaya Sawangkaew (Tha) seeded number 5. From the outset Valentina was under pressure from an opponent who had an unconventional game style which made it difficult to counter. From a coach’s perspective this match was a lost opportunity as Valentina failed to produce her form from the lead up tournaments causing her to lose a tight 4-6 4-6.
In closing, the experience was most valuable leading into the tournament schedule to improve her current WTA ranking of 738!!