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Sport

9 July, 2021

Producing professional tennis players here

WITH the grass court tennis season upon us, the crème de la crème of tournaments – The Championships, Wimbledon – will this week begin its 144th year of competition. With all of its traditions, nostalgia and strict clothing rules, The Championships has withstood the test of time and to date, it’s the one tournament that all professional players love to play and yearn to win.


By Skye Gregory

WITH the grass court tennis season upon us, the crème de la crème of tournaments – The Championships, Wimbledon – will this week begin its 144th year of competition.

With all of its traditions, nostalgia and strict clothing rules, The Championships has withstood the test of time and to date, it’s the one tournament that all professional players love to play and yearn to win.

With a tournament lasting the test of time, it makes me look at our own backyard in terms of our grass roots tennis players and consider whether one day, we’ll see another Mackay tennis prodigy on the professional circuit.

Our very own Nicole Pratt continues to give back to our little patch of budding tennis players by frequenting the Pioneer Tennis courts and hosting development days. Tennis in Mackay is certainly a thriving sport and Pioneer Tennis offers a great depth of coaching and fantastic facilities for all abilities. But can we (Mackay) produce another Nicole Pratt?

The short answer is, absolutely we can, but the harsh reality is that if the child and family want to reside in regional Queensland, it will take dedication, a pure love of the sport and a unique talent to succeed.

Unlike our Southern counterparts, Mackay doesn’t have a secondary school that offers tennis as a specialised sport within its curriculum. Therefore, all training (tennis and non-tennis based) needs to be undertaken outside of school hours, so let’s do the numbers for our regional aspiring junior players…

Tennis Australia’s recommendation for talent development of junior players (12 years through to 17 years) states that they should be training between 18 to 28 hours each week. Let’s allow the kids to have a couple of days off, because you know, they’re kids, that means over a five-day period junior players are expected to train for over three to five hours a day…. on top of a six-hour day at school!

So there’s nine to eleven hours of the day gone. The developing brain of a teenager requires an average of nine hours. There’s 18½ to 20½ hours of the day accounted for.

 That leaves around five to three hours a day to do homework, travel to and from school, eat breakfast and dinner, socialise and maybe (but not likely) have a part-time job.

Let’s add to this that on your two-days off to be “kids”, you’re then expected to travel to compete in tournaments.

When you look at the numbers like this, it’s a scary prospect if your child says “I want to be a professional tennis player”.

But, I’m given hope by the recent resurgence of 22-year-old ‘pop star’ Cody Simpson, who has proven that if you have talent and a desire to succeed, you can get back in the pool after an eight-year break and be in contention for the Australian Olympic team.

So if your budding tennis player needs a break during their adolescent years, their dream isn’t necessarily over… allow them some time off to breathe. With desire, passion, talent and a supportive network, they can still return to the game and achieve greatness.   


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