Melissa Tapper is ready to trade the tree-lined streets of her home town in Hamilton, Victoria for the beachy shores on the Gold Coast as she prepares for her second Commonwealth Games next moth.
Now living in South Melbourne, the table tennis star competed at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow and was part of the Australian Women’s team, taking out the bronze medal defeating India 3-1.
Fast forward four years and Melissa is feeling confident going into the Commonwealth Games for the second time round;
“It’s crazy to think there’s only 29 days till the (Commonwealth) Games,” the 28-year-old said.
Melissa Tapper mid competition at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow
Melissa is in the middle of a ten-day training camp at the Kilsyth Sport Centre in Croydon with six athletes that have been flown out from China to practice against the Australian team.
“It’s so good to play against high-quality opposition. I learn so much from them, the way they play and their different styles. It’s also good to have different training partners too. To play with someone of a high standard is great for my own development.”
In between hectic training schedules, Melissa makes the journey to regional areas in Victoria to talk about her table tennis journey to primary school students.
Melissa having a hit with students at the Warrnambool Primary School
When asked about what has changed for her in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games;
“A lot has changed for me in four years. I feel now I am more responsible for my training and keeping fit. Back then I was less independent and relied more on my coach”.
Melissa’s tries to get back to Hamilton once a month to visit her sister Nicole and parents Charles and Dianne whom she says are her biggest support network.
“My family has always supported me. My dad loves it! If he could, he would fly everywhere to see me play”.
Melissa’s brother Ashley lives on the Gold Coast and plans to be at every stadium to cheer her on from the stands.
Melissa with her father Charles (left) and brother Ashley (right) at the 2016 Table Tennis Australian Open
Days leading into a competition, Melissa takes time out to mentally prepare. She switches off from social media and has a light hit the day before.
“I’m always nervous before a competition. I don’t believe you’re ready to go into battle if you don’t have some nerves”.
Follow Melissa’s journey and all the action from the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast here.
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