New Malden tennis professional Melanie South has set her sights on helping the next generation of British players to the top.

The 27-year-old former Holy Cross student hung up her racket this week in favour of a coaching role – seven years after making
a winning debut at Wimbledon.

South,  claimed six International Tennis Federation (ITF) singles titles and 24 ITF doubles crowns, and reached a career high world ranking of 99 in 2009, collecting £281,489 in prize money along the way.

She famously beat 11th seed Italian Francesca Schiavone in the first round at SW19 in 2006 and also reached the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles with Alex Bogdanovic a year later, and the third round with Ken Skupski in 2012.

Great Britain Federation Cup player South, who has struggled with knee problems in recent years, lost her last match 6-4 6-1 to Czech 17-year-old Katerina Siniakova at a $75,000 tournament in Barnstaple last month, and it proved the last act in her playing career.

“I feel ready and excited to move on to the next stage of my life,” she said.

“My most memorable moments are beating Francesca Schiavone, making the quarter-finals at the WTA Tour event in Birmingham, getting to the quarter-finals  and third round in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon and, of course, breaking into the top 100, which had always been my goal.

“There are always ups and downs in a player’s career and I have been through many of both.

“I have suffered a few injuries that have now taken their toll on my body, but overall, I am proud of how I have dealt with both the highs and lows.

“I would like to thank all of my past coaches, trainers, sponsors and friends at the LTA who have helped me on my tennis journey.

“Most importantly, thank you to my family. The help and support they have always given me is amazing. I am looking forward to using all my own experiences to help others on their own tennis journey.”