Tennis centres in Logan are working together to improve pathways for promising young stars of the sport.
Paul Hanley, who has been at Meadowbrook for five years, said there was an improved inter-club junior competition on Saturdays.
“Five years ago, it was all internal,” he said.
“Now, we compete with other clubs and the kids get to feel the competitive edge. They know what it takes to play against people they’ve never seen before.”
Hanley, who ranked as high as Number 5 in world doubles, said he was fortunate to be among a strong group of players during his career.
And he wants to develop a system which allows the best young players to encourage each other to improve.
“Tennis is a sport that you have to get in at a young age. You’ve got to start early,” he said.
“It’s up to us to provide them with as many ways as we can to improve, whether that be through our own junior system, by travelling to other regions, or whatever other opportunities we can find.”
He said once pathways and structures were right at a junior level, there were opportunities for emerging talent to go through the US College system, as well as our own talent pool in Australia.
“There are options, so we do what we can to help the kids survive in the sport,” he said.
Tayla Hunter-Geppert is ranked 26 among girls her own age in Queensland, and 1800 among all female players in Australia. Aged 12, she knows she has a steep mountain to climb, but wants to be the best she can.
She trains five hours a week and plays as many junior tournaments as she can.
“Most of us can hit a good ball,” she said of her current cohort.
“It’s just all about how you play on the day, and who can put it all together.”
Tayla is in Year 7 at John Paul College and already plays in the school’s senior team. She wants to make it to a high level and is making her way through the junior development ranks.
Preston Shawcross has been identified as a potential star. He’s 8 years old and he’s playing yellow ball Under 10 tournaments against boys older than him.
He trains more than two hours a week on court, plays most weekends, and hits as many balls as his father will let him in the backyard at home.
He harbours a dream to become a professional tennis player.
“I’m always playing tennis, I am loving the sport,” he said.
“I just need self-control when I’m on the court and I need to want it so bad that I can train for it and work for it. I want to be playing seniors in five years.”
Regardless of where they land in the rankings, both Tayla and Preston agreed on one core component of their chosen sport.
“I forget about everything else when I’m playing tennis, that’s why I love it so much,” Tayla said.