Wodonga, Victoria, 22 December 2021 | Tennis Australia

The Australian Tennis Foundation’s national Rally as One initiative has returned this year, kicking off with a free community event at the Wodonga Tennis Centre in November.

Launched in November 2020, Rally as One was established to support bushfire affected communities impacted by the devastating fires in January the same year.

The global tennis community united to raise more than $6 million during the 2020 Australian Open Aces for Bushfire Relief fundraising campaign, and fire-ravaged communities across Australia continue to benefit.

Central to the fund-raising efforts was Rally for Relief, a spectacular night of tennis and entertainment led by Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Caroline Wozniacki, Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios and Petra Kvitova, held just prior to AO 2020 and broadcast to a global audience.

Funds raised during Rally for Relief continue to help rebuild vital infrastructure in some of the areas worst affected by the January 2020 bushfires, as well as deliver programs to support families and build resilience in k

> Read: Rallying as one – tennis supports Australian communities 

“It was heartbreaking to see so many communities devastated by the bushfires that swept across the country in January 2020,” Australian Tennis Foundation Executive Director Vicki Reid said.

“The resilience of the communities has been remarkable. Not only did they face the devastation of the 2020 bushfires, they were then also hit by the challenges of living through a global pandemic.”

“Rebuilding homes and community infrastructure is a long and difficult road and we continue to support the people in those community impacted by the fires of 2020. Rally as One aims to help communities come together, celebrate community spirit and promote social cohesion.”

Fire-affected locals from Corryong and Cudgewa were forced to leave their homes to seek refuge in nearby Kiewa, Talgarno and Wodonga. The fires destroyed 14 homes and thousands of acres of farmland, compromised the local water supply and contributed to the ongoing financial strain for both individuals and local business. Health providers continue their work around the clock due to the devastating impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the wider community.

Addressing the effect on the wellbeing of the whole community has been critical as locals continue to grapple with permanent and life changing losses, and as recovery efforts continue. Rebuilding these communities is not only focused on the material losses experienced by many people, but must also address the emotional and psychological impacts the fires have had on mental health across the region.

Using tennis as vehicle to recovery, the Rally as One free community event brought the Wodonga Tennis Centre to life with free court hire, come and try ANZ Tennis Hot Shots and a chance to get up close and personal with the AO trophies. Food trucks, a coffee van, photo booth, giant games, inflatables and live local music, added to the festivities.

“Since the fires of January 2020, support for ensuring the delivery of tennis continues to be a priority for the area, with significant growth in the participation of kids and adults alike being reported across the region,” Reid continued.

“We know the benefits of being involved in tennis reaches well beyond the physical, positively impacting wellbeing, social connectedness and mental health. We’re thrilled with the role tennis has been able to play in the region’s recovery”

“As the charitable arm of Tennis Australia, the Australian Tennis Foundation aims to inspire brighter futures in children and young people. We’ve seen first-hand the positive effects Rally as One events have on connecting young people with their communities. The positive impact on community spirit is infectious and we look forward continuing the delivery of Rally as One events throughout 2022.”

> Read: Tennis legend John Fitzgerald headed to Mallacoota for Rally as One 

Rally as One has contributed to relief efforts and the boosting of morale in a number of local communities since its launch in November 2020, including events held at Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills (SA), Yepoon (QLD), Cobargo (NSW) and Mallacoota and Cudgewa (VIC). In addition to Wodonga,  upcoming Rally as One events are planned for Mount Torrens (SA), Batemans Bay (NSW),  Moruya (NSW) and again in Mallacoota (Vic).

> Read more about the Australian Tennis Foundation