LOUISE Hunt hopes the time she has spent revamping aspects of her game on the practice courts over the past 12 months will result in a world rankings rise in 2018.

The Wanborough wheelchair tennis star is busy preparing for her first two competitive outings of the year, with a trip to Preston today followed by another ITF Series event in Bolton a week later.

Hunt currently sits 15th in both the women’s singles and doubles rankings but is playing catch-up on some of her global rivals after opting for a lighter tournament schedule following her second Paralympic Games appearance in Rio.

The prospect of making a third at Tokyo 2020 is “scarily” close, according to Hunt.

“Last year I took my foot off the gas when it came to tournaments for my own health and mentality,” said the 26-year-old. “The lead-up to an Olympics is crazy so I’m over the moon to be where I am in the rankings at this stage.

“I think I played 10 tournaments last year and the year before it was 15, but then 99 per cent of the players do the same thing.

“My training stayed the same. In an Olympic year you can’t change too much but I have completely remodelled my serve and forehand and it was cool to have the chance to do that. I’m feeling really confident with that now and am excited to play this year and see how things are in a live match situation.

“By the end of the year I’d like to be in the top 12 and by the middle of next in the top 10. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a jump, but it is so hard to move up from where I am.

“At Rio, I was ranked in the top 10 so in terms of progression I would like to be higher by the time Tokyo comes around. The top eight are seeded at the Olympics, so that is the dream goal.”

Hunt will approach the two upcoming singles events in the North West with modest ambitions given her lack of recent action, but hopes to lift the doubles titles at both. She will partner Dana Mathewson of the United States in Preston and British number one Lucy Shuker in Bolton.

After that, she heads to the continent for tournaments in Switzerland and Italy before attempting to help Great Britain qualify for the World Team Cup, wheelchair tennis’ equivalent of the Davis Cup, which takes place on May 28.

Hunt said: “GB’s women have always been seeded but we didn’t play in it last year as one of our players was out through injury and illness so we have to try and qualify this season.”

Off court, Hunt is finding herself increasingly in demand. Her motivational speaking and mentoring career is proving a success and she is keen to discuss opportunities with schools, groups and businesses in the Swindon area.

“I love it – hopefully I can be a little bit of a role model,” she said. “It has really ramped up over the past couple of years and I’ve been all over the country, to places like Oxford University and various business, but it is really lovely to be able to do it locally.”

To contact Hunt and find out more information, visit www.louisehunt.co.uk.