STAYING healthy is the number one priority for rising British star Katie Boulter as she bids to rebuild her world ranking after a season of incredible highs and frustrating lows.
The 23-year-old appeared to be on the cusp of something special after playing an integral role in Great Britain’s historic Fed Cup play-off victory over Kazakhstan in April.
But Boulter’s heroics came at a cost as an ongoing back injury meant she had to take time out to recover, forcing her to withdraw from the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Her inactivity has seen her plummet down the rankings from a career-high 82nd in February to outside the top 200 – and Boulter admits it has been a tough pill to swallow.
“It’s been a really difficult season for me this year and I have had to overcome a lot of obstacles,” said Jaguar Ambassador Boulter, speaking at a Jaguar Tennis Masterclass event.
“I started off the year with pretty much a dream come true in the Fed Cup where we had some great matches and for the first time in 26 years we got through the qualification.
“So I have had a lot of highs and a lot of lows because I have also been struggling a little bit with an injury but I’m really happy with where I’m at now and it’s taught me a lot.
“I’m going to use what I’ve learnt from this time out for the rest of the season and going into next year.
“The back problem is something that I just have to manage.
“I’m in a really good place physically, I’ve built myself up and that’s something that I’ve not had the chance to do before so that’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the past few months.
“I also been working mentally at getting stronger and it’s been a really good challenge for me. I have spent a lot of hours on court practising but I’m going to need a few on the match court.
“I don’t necessarily have any specific goals for next year. Health is the most important thing for me right now, obviously I want to get my ranking back to where it was and a lot higher.”
Boulter came within a whisker of beating Kazakh No.1 Yulia Putintseva before fighting back from a set down to beat Zarina Diyas and seal the tie for GB as they achieved Fed Cup promotion.
And while Boulter is relishing the chance to get back on court and build on her success at the Copper Box Arena, she stressed the importance of taking her comeback on step at a time.
“I obviously have aspirations and a lot of aims I want to achieve but we will just have to wait and see as we go along as the main thing for me is just to stay healthy,” added Boulter, speaking as part of Jaguar's official vehicle partnership with Wimbledon, which saw the Jaguar ambassadors lead a tennis masterclass for a group of Ace Pace competition winners.
“It was frustrating to be at a career high and not be able to kick on from there. I was at such a high point, which was great, but I wanted to use it and continue that momentum.
“Unfortunately that is sport for you. I just had to deal with it and go with what I’ve got, but the Fed Cup was one of the best weeks of my life and I wish every week could be like that.
“I can’t wait to get back on tour as I’ve missed it out there. I love what I do and hopefully I can be back competing again soon as I want to start climbing back up the rankings.”
Boulter was speaking at a Jaguar Tennis Masterclass at Wimbledon, where she provided a coaching session to 24 lucky competition winners alongside Tim Henman and Milos Raonic.
And the chance to return to the All England Lawn Tennis Club was particularly enjoyable for Boulter, having missed out on the chance to compete at Wimbledon due to her injury.
“I want to be making the back end of the Grand Slams, it’s my dream and after the Fed Cup it’s what I realised I can do – I can compete with the top players and that’s where I want to be,” she added.
“Tokyo 2020 is also definitely something in my mind, I’m not going to put too much emphasis on it but it is certainly there in the back of my head as it would be great to be at the Olympics.”
The Jaguar I-PACE recently won the treble at 2019 World Car Awards including World Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year and World Green Car awards. For more information about Jaguar’s partnership with Wimbledon visit https://www.jaguar.co.uk/partnerships/wimbledon.html