Hijikata to contest Longines Future Tennis Aces
Aussie junior Rinky Hijikata will represent Australia at the Longines Future Tennis Aces event during the French Open, earning a shot at playing with Andre Agassi.
Emerging Aussie junior Rinky Hijikata has been selected to represent Australia at the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament during the French Open.
The prize for finalists? A chance to play an exhibition match at Roland Garros with tennis legend and Longines ambassador Andre Agassi.
The tournament, now in its fifth year, will pit 16 under-13 boys from around the world against each other in an elimination event, staged in the centre of Paris during the first week of the French Open.
In addition to hitting with Agassi, finalists will receive full funding from Longines for their sporting equipment until their 16th birthdays.
Hijikata was at Melbourne Park on Thursday for the announcement alongside Tennis Australia’s developmental tennis manager Scott Draper and Victorian Destanee Aiava, who won the same event last year when Longines staged a girls’ Future Aces tournament.
The 12-year-old said he was honoured to be chosen by a Tennis Australia selection panel to contest the event.
“It’s really exciting … and a great opportunity to go and play the best juniors in the world,” he said.
“I’m just gonna go out there and do my best. Hopefully I can get a couple of good results and just enjoy myself.
“It would be a great opportunity if I do get to meet him [Agassi] and play him. He’s a great role model and that would just be a great experience.”
Draper said that Hijikata, who won the 12s National Grasscourt Championships in Mildura in February, was thoroughly deserving of his selection.
“Right now he’s our best in that 12 age group … he’s also a great ambassador for what we stand for in this country. He’s going to represent us very well,” he said.
“Longines are looking for players that can win the event – Destanee was obviously a great ambassador for us last year in winning the event … Hopefully he takes that experience and runs with it, which I’m sure he will.”
Aiava hit with Hijikata on the new clay courts at Melbourne Park’s National Tennis Centre, and was able to provide some valuable advice for her younger compatriot ahead of his trip to Paris.
It will no doubt come in handy for the New South Welshman, who will also take part in two tours of Europe with other Australian juniors in addition to his appearance at the Longines Future Aces.
“She gave me one tip – to stay focused on and off the court,” Hijikata revealed.