Canberra, 16 February 2011 |

The tennis class of 2011 was formally inducted into the Australian Institute of Sport today.

The athletes and their parents were welcomed to the AIS by Tennis Australia’s Head of Women’s Tennis Craig Morris, and Davis Cup Coach and Head of Men’s Tennis, Todd Woodbridge.

Through the AIS Pro Tour Program these athletes are given world class coaching, physical and medical support as they travel the world on the tennis tour.

They also have access to first rate facilities and expertise, not only at the AIS in Canberra but at Tennis Australia’s base in Barcelona and a network throughout Australia and around the world.

“The AIS Pro Tour program is primarily about transitioning our best young athletes from being good at the junior level to being successful in the professional ranks,” Brent Larkham, AIS Head Men’s Coach said today.

“We are starting to see some results – in the middle of 2010 Luke Saville was the highest ranked 16-year-old on the ATP Tour and Jason Kubler reached the semis of four Futures events in Europe last year.

“The program provides a highly professional team of coaching and support staff and our talented young athletes are provided with the best possible opportunities.

“Another of our success stories has been the involvement of former top ten player Felix Mantilla as a specialist clay court coach. Felix is based in Barcelona and works with all our athletes during the year. He’s made a big difference and helped a lot of them improve their game on clay, with players like Kubler doing really well in Futures events in Europe and James Duckworth reaching the semifinal of the French Open juniors in 2010,” Larkham continued.

Nicole Pratt has been appointed AIS Head Women’s Coach and is looking forward to working with both the younger athletes and some of Australia’s top female players.

“Women’s tennis in Australia is extremely healthy with Sam Stosur leading the way and providing a positive role model for our next generation. Her professionalism is uncompromising and her dedication to achieving her goals is what I want every player aspiring to achieve,” Pratt said.

“The AIS program, consisting of some of the best service providers in the world, gives our players the best possible opportunity to achieve their goals.  I personally am looking forward to working with and guiding our players to achieve success.”

As well as sessions with the AIS coaching team, the athletes and their parents received presentations from sports scientists, psychologists, educators and dieticians.

“We take the duty of care of these young people very seriously,” Craig Morris, himself a former school teacher, said. “The life of a professional tennis player is not an easy one. They are on the road travelling, away from home, often for months at a time. It is important we give them the best possible tools to prepare themselves in practical terms, as well as physically, mentally and emotionally.”

The 2011 AIS athletes are as follows:

Ben Mitchell (Qld)
Jason Kubler (Qld)
Luke Saville (SA)
James Duckworth (NSW)
Sean Berman (Vic)
Alex Bolt (SA)
Andrew Whittington (Vic)
Ben Wagland (NSW)
Maverick Banes (Qld)
Sally Peers (Vic)
Isabella Holland (Qld)
Ashleigh Barty (Qld)
Belinda Woolcock (Vic)