7 May 2018 | Tennis Australia

Perth schoolboy Zachary Viiala and Gold Coast schoolgirl Hana Sonton are preparing to fly to Paris after being selected as the Australian representatives for the 2018 Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament during Roland-Garros from 31 May to 2 June.

The 12-year-old junior tennis players will represent Australia when they go up against the best players of their age group from 19 countries around the world. The competition will take place on a purpose-built court installed at the foot of the Eiffel Tower during the first week of the French Open, where Longines is the Official Partner and Official Timekeeper.

The winners of the boys and girls tournament will each be awarded an annual grant to support their tennis career and development until their 16th birthday. Both players will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Australian Destanee Aiava, who won the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in 2012.

Aiava, who turns 18 this month is currently working towards qualifying for the French Open after winning the ITF Fuji Yakuhin Cup in Osaka, Japan in April. In 2017, Destanee made history playing in her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open to make her the youngest player in the main draw and the first millennial player (born in the 2000s) to contest a Grand Slam tournament.

Viiala, who is currently ranked number one in his age group, started playing tennis at the age of three and the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament will be his first time travelling overseas to compete in an international competition. The 2017 12/u Australian Claycourt Champion is looking forward to battling it out with the world’s best.

“I love playing tennis and playing in Paris at the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament during the French Open will be the biggest event I will have participated in to date,” Viiala said.

Sonton, who is also currently ranked number one in her age group, hopes to make Australia proud at the tournament and says she can’t wait to test her skills against other top players in her age group from countries including Switzerland, USA, Japan, India, South Korea and Spain. Playing in her first tennis tournament at five years old, Sonton most recently won the 12/u Australian Championships in Melbourne in December.

“The opportunity to compete at the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament is incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to compete in Paris,” Sonton said.

Former Australian professional tennis player and 2011 French Open mixed doubles champion, Casey Dellacqua, said it was a fantastic opportunity for both kids to play against some of the world’s best in Paris.

“The Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament is a great opportunity for our up-and-coming tennis stars to compete amongst some of the best junior tennis players in their age group on an international stage. Bringing the boys and girls competitions together is a great move in celebrating our rising tennis stars,” Dellacqua said.

In the lead up to the tournament, Viiala and Sonton will take part in the Longines Academy, a training camp that offers the young participants the opportunity to receive invaluable advice and a coaching session from the Longines Academy coach.

This year’s tournament patrons are former World No.2, Alex Corretja and former World No.1, Arantxa Sanchez. Both Longines Future Tennis Aces patrons have made it to the final round at Roland-Garros, with Sanchez winning the tournament three times during her professional career.

Longines has been the Official Partner and Official Timekeeper of the French Open since 2007.