Eleanor Crane's overall game come has come leaps and bounds in the US

ALL ROUNDER: Eleanor Crane has embraced doubles play the US and relishes the chance to show off her net game.
ALL ROUNDER: Eleanor Crane has embraced doubles play the US and relishes the chance to show off her net game.

Most tennis tragics will tell you that volleying is a dying aspect of the game.

That's not the case for 22-year-old net specialist Eleanor Crane who travelled from Tallwood Australia to Danville Virginia to kick-off a four-year, tennis scholarship at Averett University as she's mixing a psychology degree with ongoing singles and doubles tournaments in one of the toughest circuits the sport's got to offer.

The improvements she's made at the net have come largely due to the amount of doubles tennis she's been playing in the US, an area she's really focused on and enjoyed since moving to abroad.

"Every aspect of my game has improved but I've really excelled in doubles and for the last two years have been in the number one ranked pair," Crane said.

"I love to volley and pouch at the net."

While she's made strides in the doubles circuit, Crane's overall game has come leaps and bounds in the last three years and that's largely due to the rigorous training routine her team goes through on a daily basis.

"We train for about two hours every day," she said.

"My ground strokes have become much more reliable and consistent. I have developed a solid, all-court game.

"We also do strength and conditioning and this has done wonders for my movement on the court, agility and my endurance."

Crane was always going to face some curveballs after moving halfway across the world but she said the biggest surprised she faced after touching down in Virginia was a pleasant one.

"I really didn't expect to feel so welcome and accepted," she said.

"My university is in Virginia and very small. I didn't expect to make such great connections with my professors and coaches. They will do anything to help you.

"It's like an extended family. The South is known for its hospitality. Everybody is extremely kind and they go above and beyond to help you."

Australians are somewhat of a novelty around the world and Crane had to bring her new mates up to speed with what the country was all about, saying she had to 'give them an education' on the land down under.

Speaking about her homeland, Crane would be lying to herself if she said she didn't miss it massively and says the hardest aspect of living so far away is being away from her loved ones.

"It's hard being away from my family and not being able to see them as much as I would like to but it's all worth it for the experience." she said.

"My coach back home Darren Gersbach put the idea of playing college tennis in my head and I wouldn't have made it without him.

"I also miss the Aussie food but luckily mum sends me care packages with my favourite snacks."

Even though she's in a small town, the Coronavirus crisis has had an impact on study and tennis which is a shame considering her team got off to a flying start in 2020.

"All university got moved online for the remainder of the semester and all spring sports seasons were cancelled which included tennis," she said.

"That was disappointing because we were 4-0 in our season and I hadn't lost a match.

"I just have to make the best of the situation. I miss being home during this time but I have really wonderful friends who I can stay in touch with which I'm grateful for."

Luckily for Crane, Danville's only had a few cases of the virus.

In the mean time, it'll hopefully be a lot of study for Crane and maybe a little bit of Ash Barty on YouTube as Crane touted the world number one Aussie as one of her favourite players, along with Justine Henin and Victoria Azarenka.

She's set to return to Australia in May 2021 after graduating and doesn't think it'll be too long before she returns to the states to visit the lifelong friends she's made. Crane's also considering a masters degree at Averett which would see her stay there longer.

"I'll definitely come back and visit my friends and travel to places I haven't been yet," she said. "I could see myself living here but there's nowhere like Australia... it's home."

This story Crane's new-found love for doubles since US arrival first appeared on Central Western Daily.