Melbourne, 20 December 2010 | Tennis Australia

According to census data, there are more than 32,000 young people aged between 12 and 24 years old who are homeless on any one night in Australia.

For more than 30 years Open Family Australia has supported those who are most vulnerable and marginalised in society by providing outreach support and intensive case management to homeless and at-risk young people.

To bring a smile to those in need this Christmas, a group of young tennis fans from Melbourne’s western suburbs supported by Open Family Australia, will be given the chance to feel like a Grand Slam® champion at the inaugural Open Family Tennis Hit on Monday 20 December.

The day will be hosted by the Australian Tennis Foundation, which is committed to helping those with limited opportunities by hosting targeted programs and contributing to the development of individuals, the community and the sporting identity of tennis.

Ambassador for the Australian Tennis Foundation, tennis star Alicia Molik, said the event would encourage the group to improve their health while learning about the importance of respect and sportsmanship.

“Sports like tennis are a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle and build harmony among young people, especially those who come from different ethnic backgrounds such as myself.

“The Open Family Tennis Hit is a way that we can all help make a difference to young people’s lives and motivate them to become responsible members of their communities.”

The group will participate in an inspiring day of activities including a ‘Tennis Workout’ experience with professional coaches and will learn more about Australian tennis history with a tour of Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open.

CEO of Open Family Australia Dr Emma Casar said the day was a fantastic opportunity that the group would otherwise never be able to experience.

“We are thrilled that the Australian Tennis Foundation has chosen Open Family Australia as one of its charities. Some of the young people we support have never had the opportunity to play tennis before, let alone be mentored by one of our country’s finest tennis stars at Melbourne Park.”

Open Family Australia was established in 1978 and provides a range of services to homeless and at-risk young people aged 12 to 25 who are disengaged from society.  The organisation supports youth from a wide range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds who face issues such as family conflict, poverty, violence, and physical and sexual abuse.