Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik has declared Shellharbour's Ellen Perez has the potential to follow in Ashleigh Barty's footsteps and reach the top of women's tennis.
Perez has shown steady improvement throughout the past few months, the 23-year-old recently reaching a career-high doubles ranking of 80 and qualifying for the main draw of this week's Nottingham Open.
Visiting Mount St Thomas Primary School to hand out racquets as part of Tennis Australia's Hot Shots program, Molik said she has kept a close eye on Perez's development and she's confident Barty's French Open success will motivate Perez to continue working towards achieving her goals.
"Ellen's about to tackle her first round in Nottingham," Molik said. "Success like Ash's and like Australians before her can help bolster the belief of someone like Ellen.
"She's got the game, great attributes to become a brilliant player, it's a matter of condensing them, bringing them closer together over a sustained period.
"Having success around you and when you have that belief that you believe you can be among the top players, such as Ash, Ellen sits alongside her in so many ways, there's no reason why she can't have similar success in the future.
"She's a player I'd love to one day have as part of the Fed Cup team and I hope that's something she's gunning for."
Perez has shown a particular liking for the doubles court, with the former American college student forming successful pairings with Arina Rodionova and Daria Gavrilova throughout the past year.
Just last month Perez and Gavrilova combined to claim the Strasbourg International, with Perez's doubles ranking soaring over the past 12 months.
Molik likened Perez's recent doubles success to that of Barty, who reached three grand slam doubles finals in 2013 before claiming the US Open women's doubles title last year, and she's confident Perez's doubles prowess will eventually translate to singles success.
"We've seen in a lot of top players success comes in doubles first. It came in doubles first for Ash Barty, winning a slam, Sam Stosur won a slam before performing on the singles stage. For Aussies, it takes longer to mature. If Ash and Sam's success is any indication, that's a great indication for Ellen Perez too."
The visit was Molik's first to Wollongong since Australia's successful Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands last April.
Australia haven't lost a Fed Cup tie since the Wollongong victory, with the team set to host France in November's Fed Cup final.
A venue is yet to be finalised for that clash and while Molik declared she would like to return to the region for a tie in the future, she said it's unlikely the final will be played in Wollongong.
"Wollongong's been a happy hunting ground for Australian women's tennis. We've always really enjoyed the local crowd support here and hopefully in the future we'll be able to bring a tie back here in Wollongong to display Australia's great players and great tennis.
"For the final, at this point in time, due to the amount of spectators which we're anticipating, it's more or less three of the larger venues in the running, but we would love to return. I personally would love to return here to Wollongong to host a tie."
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