9 September 2018 | Tennis Australia

The inaugural National Indigenous Tennis Carnival wrapped up in Darwin today with champions being presented their trophies by Indigenous tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

It was a momentous occasion with four champions being crowned the first ever winners of the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival. Trent Marlin (NSW) def. Toby Radford (VIC) in the 18-and-under boy’s championships; Mikayla Zahirovic (QLD) def. Kaecia Beattie (NSW) in the 18-and-under girls’; Sophie Foster (NSW) def. Asia Khan (NSW) in the 14-and-under girl’s; and Quincy Khan (NSW) def. Samuel Fisher-Bullen (WA) in the 14-and-under boy’s.

Tennis NT CEO and National Indigenous Tennis Carnival manager Sam Gibson lauded the success of the event.

“The inaugural National Indigenous Tennis Carnival was an amazing event. We had nearly 200 players from every state and territory making it the largest gathering of Indigenous tennis players in one place which is something we are really proud of and we hope we can continue to grow this great event each year,” Gibson said.

“It was amazing for Darwin to be able to host an event like this and the community really rallied behind the Carnival, it’s not every day that locals get free access into all elements of the event including a concert by Baker Boy but I’m glad we were able to bring that for Territorians.”

A special award presentation was made for two stars who showed great leadership values on-and-off court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley presented 18-and-under girls’ champion Mikayla Zahirovic from Townsville, Queensland with the first ever Evonne Goolagong Cawley Medal of Excellence for her outstanding leadership on-and-off court. Denisha Chilman (Qld) was presented with the Young Leader award, voted by peers and tournament staff across the four day event.

“I didn’t think I was going to be alive to see an event like this where you have Indigenous kids from all over Australia coming together for this kind of tournament, and it’s wonderful,” Evonne Goolagong Cawley said.

“I’d like to thank everyone for putting on this event, we’re working with Tennis Australia and the states to try and get more Indigenous kids playing this wonderful game. It’s all about creating better lives for Indigenous kids through tennis.”

Fifteen-year-old Mikayla Zahirovic was honoured to be named the first ever winner of the Evonne Goolagong Cawley Medal of Excellence.

“It was really good to get the win today, coming out I was a bit nervous but as I got into it I just played my own game and felt in my skin which helped with the end result,” Zahirovic said.

“To get the first ever Evonne Goolagong Cawley Medal of Excellence feels amazing, my goal in tennis is to see where I can go and I’d like to make it pro one day and hopefully follow in Evonne’s footsteps.

“It’s been an amazing experience, a really good competition and I played well throughout. I also found out I had family here which was pretty special so I’m really looking forward to coming back next year.

“I think the off-court stuff has also been really cool, some of the kids who have come from all different communities don’t usually get to experience some of the stuff they have which is what it is all about.”

Sydney’s Trent Marlin, 18, ranked 191 in Australia, took out the 18-and-under boys’ championships against a fierce competitor Toby Radford (Vic).

“Yeah it was really good to get the win today and become one of the first champions of the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival, it feels really special,” Marlin said.

“It was a pretty tough match, I don’t think the score reflected some of the rallies we had, I just tried to be a strong competitor, make him play and I guess that worked well for me.”

National Indigenous Tennis Carnival 2018 final results

18-and-under championships                                                                                 

Girls: Mikayla ZAHIROVIC (Qld) def. Kaecia BEATTIE (NSW) 6-0 6-1

Boys: Trent MARLIN (NSW) def. Toby RADFORD (Vic) 6-4 6-1

14-and-under championships                                                                             

Girls: Sophie FOSTER (NSW) def. Asia KHAN (NSW) 5-7 7-6(6) 11-9

Boys: Quincy KHAN (NSW) def. Samuel FISHER-BULLEN (WA) 6-3 6-0

Evonne Goolagong Cawley Medal of Excellence

Mikayla ZAHIROVIC (Qld)

Young Leader award      

Denisha Chilman (Qld)

National Indigenous Tennis Carnival by the numbers


  • More than 180 participants from every state and territory took part in the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival
  • More than 2000 people attended the Carnival across the four-day event.

Carnival facts

  • More than 78 hours of tennis was played in the Carnival’s Challenger tournament
  • Emily Beetson (Vic) and Tiarna Williams (NSW) played the longest match lasting two hours and 31 minutes
  • Fruit was popular at the carnival, with 65kgs of mandarins, 48kgs of bananas, and 45kgs of apples eaten over the four days
  • More than 500kgs of ice was used
  • Sixty-five staff members supported the carnival in roles including officials, team supervisors and event managers
  • More than 400 tennis balls were used throughout the four days