Melbourne, 3 December 2010 | Tim Rose

This week the Optus 14s Championships at the December Showdown 2010 has kicked off, which sees the best juniors from Australia and New Zealand descend on Melbourne Park over a two-week carnival.

Rain delayed the start of the event, with only a handful of first-round matches completed over the first day. Many of the players in the singles draw also represented their states in the recently completed Optus 14s Australian Team Championships. Here are just some players to look out for:

Photos: Optus 14s Australian Teams Championships

Photos: Optus 14s Australian Championships

Boys singles

Top seed Brad Mousley (SA) claimed his maiden National 14s title on the clay courts in Ipswich, Queensland, in April 2010. The promising South Australian, ranked No.129 in Australia currently, showed his class in the recently completed teams event, impressing in a hard-fought win over Daniel Guccione in the round-robin stage of the Teams Championship.

Marc Polmans (Vic) took out the Optus 12s title at the December Showdown last year and, now aged 13, will be looking to replicate that success in the 14s this year.  A member of the Victorian side that claimed the Teams Championship this week, South African-born Polmans has had some impressive results, and while younger than some in the main draw, may prove dangerous.

Runner-up in the Optus 12s last year, Omar Jasika (Vic) also represented the trophy-winning Victoria in the Teams Championships this week. The talented left-hander won through to the main draw as a qualifier and will be one player the others will hope to avoid.

The player regarded by Victorian team captain Wayne Arthurs as the most dangerous in the draw is Daniel Guccione (Vic), the cousin of Australian professional Chris. An imposing figure on the court, he uses his significant height and strength to his advantage. He was a dominant player in the Teams Championship, leading Victoria to the title with a powerful display in the final. Currently ranked nationally at No.144, he will be one to watch over the week as the No.2 seed.

Harry Bourchier (Tas) impressed with his individual results in the teams event, remaining undefeated in singles matches. His Australian ranking steadily rising, Bourchier recently made the semifinal of the open-age ATM Gold AMT #2 at Melbourne Park, and won the Bob Jane T-Mart Tassie Classic in his home state in October. He is the third seed in the Optus 14s this week.

Girls singles

The top seed for the girls’ event is Lyann Hoang (Qld), who represented Australia at the World Junior Team Championships, winning a bronze medal. She has played 14s level events for the past few years, winning her first Winter National Championships as a 12 year old.

Brigitte Beck (Vic) is one of a number of top 200 Australian ranked players in the Optus 14s this week, and was impressive in the teams event on the way to her and her team’s success, dropping just the one match en route to the final.  Ranked No.132, she is the highest ranked girl in the draw and as recently as September was No.107 nationally.

Annabelle Andrinopoulos (Vic), another Victorian in the national top 200 players, Andrinopoulos is currently ranked at No.172 and was also a member of the girls Victorian 14s team. Appearances in the round of 16 at the Optus 16s National Claycourt Championships and the semifinal of the Open Age Kia Classic 2010 has helped her national ranking climb to its current peak.

Like Polmans, Anja Dokic (WA) took out the Optus 12s in 2009 and will be looking for success in the 14s this year. She began 2010 with another Optus 12s win, at the National Grasscourt Championships in Mildura.

Fifth seed Jaimee Gilbertson (Qld) is currently ranked No.143 nationally and represented her state in the recent teams championship. She began 2010 with a strong showing in her home state, reaching the semifinals at the Sunshine Coast Open Tennis Championships.

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