Melbourne, 1 December 2010 | Tim Rose

The Newcombe Medal was today unveiled at Melbourne Park, with nominee Anastasia Rodionova on hand to get a closer look before the inaugural gala dinner on Friday night.

The ceremony was created as an opportunity for the Australian tennis community to recognise the outstanding performers of the year, both at elite and grassroots level.

The most prestigious award is the Newcombe Medal itself, with Rodionova nominated alongside Sam Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Groth as the most outstanding Australian professional player. The award is named after Australian tennis legend John Newcombe, who won 26 Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles and captained Australia to its 1999 Davis Cup victory.

Rodionova, who this year made her Fed Cup debut and took home two Commonwealth Games gold medals, admitted she was shocked to be nominated.

“I was surprised when I got the call,” she said.

“It’s an honour to be a finalist. It’s tough to explain because I’ve never been in this situation before. I’m proud of the year I had this year, proud of my results. It’s a nice reward at the end of the year,” Rodionova said, tipping Stosur to take home the first Newcombe Medal.

“I’m looking forward to Sam getting on the stage and getting the medal. She had a great year, to finish the year at No.6 in the world, to reach the final of the French [Open] and to play Fed Cup for as many years as she’s played.”

The Newcombe Medal Australian Tennis Awards will be the first of its kind for Australian tennis.

“It’s exciting. We travel all year, and the tennis community in Australia don’t get to spend a lot of time together so it’s going to be a great opportunity for all of us to meet up, have a nice meal and get dressed up,” she said.

Other awards on the night recognise the contribution of tennis clubs, volunteers and coaches across the country, with nominees as follows:

The Newcombe Medal
Nominees: Jarmila Groth, Lleyton Hewitt, Anastasia Rodionova and Sam Stosur

Most Outstanding Tennis Community
Nominees: Cairns Regional Tennis Centre (Qld), Kendall Tennis Club (NSW) and Bendigo Tennis Association (Vic).

Volunteer Achievement Award
Nominees: Jean O’Brien (NSW), Ross and Alen Smythe (Qld) and Tom Hancy (Vic).

Most Outstanding Club
Nominees: Geelong Lawn Tennis Club (Vic), Gove Peninsula Tennis Club (NT) and Kendall Tennis Club (NSW).

Most Outstanding Tournament
Nominees: Burnie International (Tas), Cliffs Esperance International (WA) and Cairns International Pro Tour (Qld).

Excellence in Officiating
Nominees: Kerrilyn Cramer (Vic), James Tucker (Qld) and Margaret Sheean (NSW).

Junior Athlete of the Year
Nominees: Ashleigh Barty (Qld), Monika Wejnert (Qld), Jason Kubler (Qld), Ben Mitchell (Qld), Bernard Tomic (Qld) and James Duckworth (NSW).

Most Outstanding 35 Tennis Senior
Nominees: Andrew Rae (Vic), Neville Halligan (Qld) and Carl Anjou (Vic)

Most Outstanding Athlete with a Disability
Nominees: Daniela di Toro (Vic), Ben Weekes (NSW), Zvi Schwietzer (Vic) and Kelly Wren (NSW).

Coaching Excellence – High Performance
Nominees: David Taylor (NSW), Scott Draper (Qld), Gary Stickler (Qld) and Nicole Pratt (Qld).

Coaching Excellence – Club
Nominees: Brett Lennard (ACT), John Roberts (WA), Craig Louis (NSW), Lee Pearson (Vic), Matthew Limpus (Qld), Wes Horskins (Vic) and Pat Coburn (NT).

Coaching Excellence – MLC Tennis Hot Shots
Nominees: Helen Rice (WA), Matthew Bull (WA) and Wes Horskins (VIC)