Getting a big head won’t be a concern for rising Australian tennis star Destanee Aiava, it seems.
There was no shortage of support for the 16-year-old after her stirring Brisbane International run came to an abrupt halt in the second round on Wednesday.
But the teenager admitted she was bracing herself for some tough love from her mum ahead of her maiden Australian Open campaign.
The Aussie qualifier’s Brisbane bubble burst when she was defeated 6-4 6-3 in 70 minutes by dual grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
To put Aiava’s daunting challenge in perspective, the teenager was born in 2000 – the same year Kuznetsova turned pro.
And at 31, world No.9 Kuznetsova is almost twice Aiava’s age.
Yet world No.386 Aiava didn’t die wondering against the fifth seed, rattling off some stunning winners before fatigue from a big week finally caught up with the youngster.
The powerfully built Aiava – of Samoan parents – has been the surprise hit of the tournament.
Queensland fans quickly adopted the Melbourne schoolgirl, chanting her name court-side during her stunning Brisbane run.
And her profile will only get bigger – she has already received an Australian Open wildcard.
It’s enough to do any teenager’s head in.
But Aiava promised to stay grounded for Melbourne thanks to her hard marking self-taught coach – her mum Rosie.
“She’s always telling me off if I’m getting a big head and stuff,” Aiava laughed.
Asked if her mother, a former rugby player and kick boxer, was tough but fair Aiava said: “She’s just tough, not fair – tough, tough, tough.
“She said (after the second round loss) ‘get back out on the practice court, we’ve got a lot to work on’.”
But Aiava believed Kuznetsova had provided plenty of vital lessons ahead of the opening grand slam.
“It’s pretty scary (playing world No.9) but I think I learned a lot out of that match,” she said.
“I got some confidence in my game and myself, knowing that I do belong here.
“I feel like I’m ready for that challenge now…I’m looking forward to it.”
Kuznetsova booked a quarter-final against fourth seed and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
The Russian veteran sounded relieved she had stopped Aiava’s momentum.
“I said to my coach ‘I am double her age’ – it’s crazy,” she said.
“Her shots, forehand and backhand, they are really intense and she can serve really well.
“She has lots of power and athleticism. She has good potential but it’s what she does with it in the next few years that will count.”
Aiava created history in Brisbane when she became the first player born after the year 2000 to win a WTA main draw match.
Her next stop is the Kooyong Classic exhibition event from January 10.