Melbourne, Australia, 10 March 2022 |

Promised a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience at Australian Open 2022, the inaugural Australian Tennis Foundation lottery winners were thrilled to watch history unfold across a memorable finals weekend.

The ATF lottery winners each received return airfares, accommodation, as well as Australian Open 2022 finals tickets with complimentary hospitality experience. They were also treated to an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at Melbourne Park and invited to attend the champion’s photo shoot.

> READ: Australian Tennis Foundation Lottery winners announced

Avid tennis fan Cath Kent, who grew up on a remote property in western Queensland, was overjoyed to win a women’s finals prize package.

“My whole family plays tennis and we used to travel hundreds of kilometres for tournaments all the time,” she related. “When you’re from a remote place, it is fabulous. The teamwork, the friendships for life. Tennis is part of our blood.”

It was a first Australian Open experience for both Kent and partner Dion Kidner, who live in Atherton in Far North Queensland.

The night before the lottery draw, the couple had added a trip to Melbourne to attend the Australian Open onto their bucket list.

Witnessing Ash Barty create history and become the first local singles champion in 44 years made the prize even more special.

“It was just surreal,” Kent said. “We’d been watching Barty truck her way through and everyone in Atherton was absolutely chanting for her to win through to the finals.”

Kidner rated attending Barty’s final showdown with American Danielle Collins as the best sporting experience of his life.

“In comparison to other sporting events that I’ve been to, including NRL grand finals, this one tops them all,” he said.

“The crowd building behind the big points, the anticipation of what you’re about to see as much as what you have seen, was amazing. It’s an experience that anyone would love, whether they love tennis or not.”

Ginny Swinnerton and Peter Fitzgerald won a men’s final experience, trading in the return airfares for VIP Australian Open transport from their Melbourne home.

“From the minute we were collected from home in a luxurious Kia Sportif, to the warm greeting with an AO folder full of lanyards and Mastercard vouchers at the Westin, our gorgeous suite with AO backpacks filled with impressive goodies, then fabulous breakfasts, we were pampered non-stop,” related Swinnerton.

“With the glamorous chauffeuring to and from the Australian Open, an insightful tour to all those places we could never have dreamed to visit and a professional photographer snapping his camera as we walked down the Walk of Champions and into the press conference theatre, who wouldn’t be dumbstruck?”

Swinnerton and Fitzgerald were also “overwhelmed with joy” after witnessing Rafael Nadal become the first man in history to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles.

“Many friends are keen to participate (in the lottery) next year, envious of our magical experience,” said Swinnerton.

More ‘money-can’t-buy’ experiences will be on offer in the Australian Tennis Foundation Lottery at Australian Open 2023, with tickets set to go on sale before Christmas this year.

> Keep up to date with the Australian Tennis Foundation