Shellharbour's Perez a hit in Open training

TENNIS

For Shellharbour left-hander Ellen Perez, there is rarely a more exciting time of year than the Australian Open.

After just missing out on a wildcard spot to the women's doubles draw with Queensland-based partner Priscilla Hon, the 18-year-old will play a vital role at Melbourne Park as a hitting partner to professional players in the draw.

"It is a real buzz around this time of year," Perez said.

"There is still a heap of people who come down and watch you train, all the fans of players, so it is really good to have that sort of environment.

"My name is down for whenever any players need to have a hit, so it is good to get the experience. The last few days I have been hitting partners for [Yaroslava] Shvedova and Michaëlla Krajicek."

The practice of being a hitting partner is nothing new for Perez, who engaged in the role last season after moving down to Melbourne two years ago to enhance her game.

But she is also looking to boost her own game throughout 2014.

"I want to get my pro ranking up a bit so I will be going to Tasmania on around the 20th of this month," Perez said.

"There are some $50,000 tournaments over there and a few around $20,000 and $15,000 in Australia coming up, so I will just travel to those.

"I may even go to Europe at some stage."

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