Isabelle Wallace switches from GB to Australia over LTA support

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland
Isabelle Wallace
Isabelle Wallace previously spent six years in Australia

Isabelle Wallace says she switched allegiance from Britain back to Australia because of a lack of Lawn Tennis Association support.

The 19-year-old and her family returned to Inverness in 2012 after six years spent in Australia.

"They are very good at communicating, giving direction and mentoring," she told BBC Scotland.

The LTA says support "is always in relation to the player's overall performance level".

Wallace, who has slipped to 784th in the world singles rankings after reaching a career high of 630 in August, says her goal is "to be in the top 300" by the end of 2016.

She thinks Australia "is where the future of my tennis lies," adding: "I've changed for my benefit and for my tennis.

"I was told when I was 70 in the world, at the juniors, that my ranking wasn't good enough. That was a bit of a confidence blow.

"I'm not a changed person or anything. I think a few people have maybe been disappointed."

Her father, family baker Alan, said it was a "big decision" for the family.

"It's been playing on our minds for a while, probably the last couple of years," he said.

LTA statement
"The LTA has provided Izzy with support such as tournament wildcards, coaching and funded trips abroad throughout 2015 and over the last few years. Player support in its many forms, is always in relation to the player's overall performance level. We respect Izzy's decision in this instance and wish her well in her future aspirations."

"It's disappointing it had to be done, but Isabelle's pretty comfortable with it and she believes now is a chapter in her career that hopefully she'll get help from the Australian governing body and just being part of a more professional set-up is the main thing.

"Over the last few years since we came back from Australia, we've had a look at what Isabelle's been doing and the level of support she's been getting from the LTA and Tennis Scotland.

"I'd rather she was representing Britain and Scotland, but most of her tennis background was in Australia. They've kept in touch with her.

"It just seems to be, when somebody doesn't play too well for two or three months, they're just dropped like a hot potato."

'People get fed up and drop out'

Attempting to progress to the higher levels of the sport takes a lot of investment and Wallace, with wife Diane, spends in excess of £25,000 per year to fund their daughter's development.

Their frustration is less about financial support than assistance in key areas.

"It's more on the mentoring side of it and communication with Isabelle," added Wallace's father. "That just wasn't there anymore. It's just non-existent.

"We do feel let down. We just felt we were on our own doing it. Plotting our flights here and there and what tournaments to go to."

The Wallace family feel their case is not unique and the demands on families and youngsters may be turning people away from the sport.

"I would say this is happening consistently," Alan Wallace added. "I think maybe a lot of people get fed up and drop out the game.

"A lot of people just feel on their own I would imagine.

"Tennis is a really, really tough sport. We're lucky enough to have our business that we can support Isabelle and we'll continue supporting her, but it's very, very hard on families. It's draining.

"You just feel alone. You need a governing body to help you and talk to you and give you the guidance on what you should be doing."