6 September 2018 | Tennis Australia

The inaugural National Indigenous Tennis Carnival was officially opened today by former world No.1 and 14-time Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley in Darwin.

Goolagong Cawley was on-site at the Darwin International Tennis Centre to greet some of the 190 Indigenous youth who have travelled from every state and territory to take part in the four day event which runs until Sunday.

The Indigenous icon also announced a medal named in her honour, the Evonne Goolagong Cawley Medal of Excellence which will be given to the participant who displays excellence, integrity and leadership on-and-off court at the event.

“The National Indigenous Tennis Carnival is a great event for Indigenous youth to be able to participate in tennis and learn more about their culture in a fun and friendly atmosphere,” Goolagong Cawley said.

“It’s not every day that you get to experience an event like this and I’m sure all participants will embrace the opportunity in front of them.”

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the participants and engaging with them at the event. The Evonne Goolagong Foundation works closely with a lot of the participants who are competing at the event so it’s great to be able to support them and provide a tennis pathway through a national event like this.”

“The Evonne Goolagong Cawley Medal of Excellence embodies the values of the foundation as well, we will be keeping an eye out for the most outstanding leader who displays excellent leadership, skill, commitment and collaboration on-and-off the court.”

The carnival will see the participants taking part in one of two tennis streams: Future Stars for those learning the sport and Challenge for talented juniors in the girls’ and boys’ 14-and-under and 14-and-over categories.

The best performers in the Challenge stream will be given the opportunity to represent Australia at the ITF (International Tennis Federation) Fiji Open in 2019, a big incentive for any up-and-coming tennis stars.

Throughout the four day event, on-court competitions will be intertwined with cultural and wellbeing workshops including: Indigenous art, basket weaving and health workshops. In addition, participants can choose to join in the many extra-curricular activities on offer including a dance workshop with Baker Boy, circus performing workshops with Corrugated Iron, cooking workshops with Zach Green and an AFL clinic by Daniel Motlop.

Engagement with the local community also features prominently during the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival with the public invited to attend the event for free across the four days to enjoy tennis and access many of the markets, food stalls and other activities on offer. The Baker Boy concert on Friday evening is expected to be enjoyed by more than 1800 locals on-site.

Tennis NT CEO Sam Gibson is looking forward to the local Darwin community getting behind the event.

“The National Indigenous Tennis Carnival is a big win for Darwin and the Top End,” Gibson said.

“To be able to host a national event not only for participants but for the public is pretty exciting and we encourage everyone to get down to show their support for the event.

“With workshops, a concert, a variety of food, markets, kids’ areas and tennis; there will be something for everyone and we are really looking forward to connecting the community to tennis.”