Beckman aims for Platinum after first Silver-level crown
FOR Taylah Beckman, juggling Year 12 studies and a burgeoning tennis career is a piece of cake.
At the start of the year the 16-year-old chose to be more selective about the tournaments she plays so as to focus on her studies.
That provided a three-month break from competition but it has brought the best out of the McAuley Catholic College student.
In her first tournament since winning the Bronze-level Ballina Open, Beckham last week won her first Silver-level singles title - the Skybridge Financial Inverell Open.
Today she heads to Toowoomba seeded sixth for a Platinum-level event featuring a total prize pool of about $15,000.
To put her rapid rise through the ranks into perspective, previously Beckham has had to qualify just to reach the main draw.
Should she win her opening match at Toowoomba she will earn as many ranking points as her come-from-behind win over Gabrielle O'Gorman 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the final at Inverell last week.
The 6-4 2-6 6-2 win over Alicia Smith in the final at Ballina in January elevated Beckham to No.100 in the Australian rankings.
Her break from competition meant her ranking slipped a few places but the win at Inverell is bound to set a career-high when the new rankings are released later this month.
"It was supposed to be my goal for the year to break into the top 100," she said.
"After my first tournament I was exactly 100."
Despite no competition in three months, Beckham feels her game has improved markedly with more time spent on court with her coaches, dad Michael and uncle Phil Beckman.
"I miss going away and playing more tournaments. The road trips are always fun," she said.
"But I actually feel more match-fit from training with Phil and my serve has improved. A lot more power."
Phil Beckman said his niece's style of play is similar to much of the generation that precedes her, with an emphasis on power.
"We're strokemakers and so is Taylah. We like going after the ball which is not the typical way to play these days on the slower surfaces," he said.
"This type of game you can't afford to make a lot of errors, so it's make or break.
"But Taylor's defence is very good. She gets a lot of balls back.
"Physically she's getting a lot stronger and hitting the ball harder, even since Ballina.
"If she's hitting the ball as well as she can you can't get it back."