Brisbane, Australia, 9 March 2023 |

The National Tennis Academy (NTA) class of 2023 has been revealed, with 27 players aged between 14 and 23 joining the program.

Australian Open men’s doubles champion Rinky Hijikata leads the list of players returning to the NTA, along with top-50 ranked juniors Hayden Jones (world No.30) and Charlie Camus (world No.47), Billie Jean King Cup representative Olivia Gadecki and Taylah Preston, who hit a career-high world junior ranking of No.10 last year.

Emerson Jones, the world’s highest-ranked junior player in the 2008 birth year at No.29, joins fellow 14-year-olds Jake Dembo and Tahlia Kokkinis as new members of the squad.

Tennis Australia’s National Tennis Academy is led by Chris Mahony and Brent Larkham. It has been designed as a holistic development program and is the pinnacle of the national tennis pathway.

The world-class program for aspiring professional players is supported by a further 11 coaches and supplemented by a team of experts in physical performance, nutrition, performance analysis, physiotherapy, sports psychology, medical support and wellbeing. A personalised education program for school-aged players is another key pillar of the NTA.

“When we launched our new Performance Pathway in 2020, our goal was to provide more opportunities to more players throughout the development pathway. With initiatives such as expanding the Super 10s program, the zone and national development squads we are doing just that, with more than 400 players engaged in these programs,” Chief Strategy and Performance Officer Timothy Jolley said.

“At the elite level we are delighted to welcome the 2023 cohort to the National Tennis Academy and provide them with the support required to compete with the very best in the world. We are proud of the outstanding results many of our athletes have achieved over the past 12 months and wish them all well for the coming year.”

National Tennis Academy – Class of 2023
Adam Walton (23, Qld) Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (18, SA)
Charlie Camus (16, ACT) Emerson Jones (14, Qld)
Dane Sweeny (22, Qld) Lily Fairclough (17, WA)
Derek Pham (18, WA) Lily Taylor (17, Qld)
Edward Winter (18, SA) Melisa Ercan (17)
Hayden Jones (16, Qld) Mia Repac (18, NSW)
Jake Dembo (14, WA) Olivia Gadecki (20, Qld)
James McCabe (19, NSW) Petra Hule (24, SA)*
Jeremy Jin (18, NSW) Tahlia Kokkinis (14, Qld)
Pavle Marinkov (17, NSW) Talia Gibson (18, WA)
Philip Sekulic (19, Qld) Taylah Preston (17, WA)
Rinky Hijikata (22, NSW) Zara Larke (17, Qld)
Thomas Gadecki (17, Qld)
Tristan Schoolkate (22, WA) * Players part of the collegiate pathway are eligible for the NTA for an additional year
Zach Viiala (17, WA)

“Developing a talent pathway that provides young athletes with the opportunity to become independent and resilient tennis professionals, with a broad set of skills and capabilities, is our top priority,” Head of the NTA Chris Mahony said.

“Through the NTA we are delivering a holistic athlete development program which gives each player the opportunity to maximise their potential on and off the tennis court.

“We have both residential and home-based programs available and work closely with the athletes, their private coaches and their families to ensure they have access to the best support network possible.”

The broad base of player development begins in zone and national development squads, with more than 400 players receiving high-level additional training, working with coaches in each state and territory throughout the year.

> National development squads around the country provide high-level additional training opportunities for promising players, with the top-six players in each birth year from 11-18 invited to participate in the state-based development squad, supplementing the work of their private coaches.

> Zone squads around the country provide more opportunities to the 10-15 age group (in both regional and metro areas) to get involved in competitive tennis and learn more about the pathway. Zone squads are led by selected private coaches in each region with the objective of accelerating the development of talented local players.

“Through our broader talent development pathway we want to ensure we provide more opportunities for our young players,” Tennis Australia Director of Talent Paul Vassallo said.

“By broadening the base and bringing more of our young players into our programs they learn more about the competitive pathway in tennis, while continuing to work with their own local coaches and support teams.”

Tennis Australia’s performance pathway
Participation: Tennis Hot Shots or club tennis
Match play
Super 10’s
Junior tournaments
Zone squads (10-15)
National development squads – 11-18, selection based on UTR rating and performance criteria
Player Support Program – 11-14, selection based on UTR rating and nationals performance criteria
National Tennis Academy – 14-23
Senior pro (23+ College, Professional – ITF, WTA/ATP, UTR)

> READ MORE: Additional information on the performance pathway

In addition, some states also have Inclusion and Diversity performance programs for players in Wheelchair Tennis, Blind and Low Vision, Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Intellectual Impairment.

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