Escorting groups of young tennis enthusiasts to the Australian Open (many their first experience) I was frequently asked “where can we watch our players play“. Explaining to 11 year old’s, that only two got past the 1st round in singles and none past the 3rd round , a bemused look came over their faces …. stats show 0 from 20 in the qualifying event and 2 from 16 past the 1st round in the main draw.
“Oh where not very good at tennis” was the inquisitive reply, as a ‘tennis’ professional for over 35 years, this made me cringe a little … “what about our juniors” was the next question, again I could only talk about the great potential of two …. stats show from the ITF lead in event at Traralgon, 1 from 22 boys got past the qualies and 5 from 17 girls the same. Main draw … 3 from 14 boys got past the 1st round (although 1 did win the event !) and only 1 from 18 girls got past the 2nd round. The Australian Open junior event which followed the numbers were similar (although 2 boys are in the semi finals today … zero girls past the 2nd round).
Silence from our group, then the perfect reply … “maybe it will be one of us that play here and win, one day” ! I loved that answer and the Australian spirit … yes maybe it will !
The responsibility of all that are involved in Australian Tennis and it’s rightful place in the world must take this attitude displayed and create an environment of ‘ladder to the top’ for all the players that put their hand up ! ….. we are great up to the point of the above (16 years of age and under) … then we stop the ladder for all but a few to climb … keep the ladder their and maybe put in another one, so that one day and soon, our 11 year old’s can see Australian’s play … every day !