Mutavdzic looks ahead after Roland Garros run
• 4 MINUTE READ
Matilda Mutavdzic is not alone in having had a severely disrupted year. However, a first ITF $15k title win in Mellil, she is feeling positive for the future.
The 16-year-old is one of three youngsters on the LTA Men’s and Women’s Programme who caught the eye in Paris, reaching the last sixteen of the girls competition along with Arthur Fery and Felix Gill in the boys draw.
She eventually lost out to No.3 seed Elsa Jacquemot, but has been pleased with her performances since returning to competitive action following the suspension of the tours earlier this year.
She said: “I was working really hard during the lockdown – even though all the tournaments were cancelled, I still had clear goals in my mind. I was really striving to win that first title. I knew as soon as my coaches entered me into Mellila I was there to win it. Everything was a bit shaky earlier in the year because of Covid and my confidence wasn’t as high as it could have been going into that tournament, but I was really pleased with how I played and it was great to get my first title.
“It gave me a lot more confidence and definitely contributed to my performances at Roland Garros. Obviously I would have liked to have gone further there, but overall I’m pleased with the way I played and I think I can be pretty proud of my performances this year.”
Mutavdzic was born as one of triplets in Oxford in 2004, and attended Stoke Row Primary School in Henley with brothers Danilo and Stefan. She describes how her interest in tennis was piqued by the same tournament where she has just competed.
She said: “I started playing tennis by pure accident. I was flipping through the channels on TV and happen to come across the Roland Garros final between Ana Ivanovic and Dinara Safina, and I just thought they were both really cool. So I said I wanted to try tennis and it was lucky that we had courts not far from our house in Henley.
“For my seventh birthday, my mum bought me a Sponge Bob Squarepants racket from Toys ‘R’ Us, and my dad would take me to the courts to hit, and when he couldn’t I would just hit against a wall. Then I started training after school in Abingdon with Ed Isard. When I started it would be a couple of times a week in groups, then Ed suggested I start to come more frequently, which I was very happy to do!”
It was initially a family affair with her brothers getting involved on court too but it soon became clear that their talents lay elsewhere.
“All three of us starting playing tennis at the same time, but I always showed the most interest and my brothers didn’t carry it on. Danilo moved on to athletics where he became national champion and a European bronze medallist. Stefan is more academic and is excelling in maths and science – he’s even taken part in a couple of Maths Olympics.”
The journey so far
After developing her game in Abingdon, Mutavdzic has also trained in Serbia following a family move, before enrolling in the Kim Clijsters Academy in Belgium at the age of 10 for two years. As well as the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, she now trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, having enrolled in March.
The Men’s and Women’s Programme that is helping to support her development from the junior ranks into professional tennis is a key stage of the LTA Player Pathway. It provides financial and coaching support, as well as use of the National Tennis Centre for players aged 16-21 as they progress towards competing in Grand Slams and,or, representing Great Britain in the Davis or Billie Jean King Cup.
It represents Mutavdzic’s progression to the next stage of the LTA Player Pathway, as well as a long relationship with the governing body which has also included support through the National Age Group Programme.
She said: “Whenever I’m back home for a training block, coaching or testing the LTA are very accommodating and the facilities at the NTC are fantastic. It’s great to be on the Men’s and Women’s Programme and everyone’s really supportive. From the age of ten it was obvious that tennis was becoming serious for me – as I started to produce results and got more serious, that was when I was needing more support and the LTA were always there to offer it.”
As far as the future is concerned, Mutavdzic is ambitious and for both the short and long term.
She said: “I’ll take some time off to see family first as it’s been a while, then I will get back to training and will most likely play the ITF Grade One tournament in Vienna at the end of October. I definitely take it tournament by tournament and try to execute everything I’ve worked on in training in each competition. Long term, I’d love to have established myself on the WTA circuit in a few years’ time, and to develop my ranking as high as possible.”
Find out more
Learn more about the LTA Player Pathway and ten-year Performance Strategy.