Sunshine Coast, Australia , 2 August 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Eleven teenage athletes from Tennis Australia’s National Tennis Academy are competing at an Australian Pro Tour event on the Sunshine Coast this week.

Chris Mahony, Head of the National Tennis Academy, believes the Caloundra International is a valuable opportunity for these promising players to test themselves against world-class players.

“These entry-level professional 15K events are really instrumental in the professional pathway, because you have this really interesting mix of some of our up-and-coming juniors that are looking for experience against older players,” Mahony said.

“You also get some of the players who have just exited from juniors and this is their first or second year trying to transition into the bigger tournaments with more prize money and more ranking points.

“And then you get some veterans that might be playing at a higher level, but they’ve just dipped back down into the 15K level to get some extra matches or some confidence.”

The rising Australian stars competing at the Sunshine Coast Regional Tennis Centre this week include 15-year-old Emerson Jones, who is currently the highest-ranked 2008-born player in the world, and 18-year-old Zara Larke, who advanced to her first professional doubles final last week.

Caloundra International #2
National Tennis Academy competitors
Men Women
Derek Pham (19, WA) Zara Larke (18, Qld)
Edward Winter (18, SA) Lily Fairclough (17, WA)
Zachary Viiala (17, WA) Melisa Ercan (17, Qld)
Pavle Marinkov (17, NSW) Lily Taylor (16, Qld)
Charlie Camus (16, ACT) Emerson Jones (15, Qld)
Hayden Jones (16, Qld)

With no charge for spectators wishing to attend the event, Mahony says it is a golden chance to see tomorrow’s stars in action.

“The Grand Slams are everybody’s goal here, every player in the qualifying and the main draw,” Mahony said.

“They are all trying to accumulate enough experience and ranking points to move up through that pathway to hopefully one day play in the Grand Slams, where you’ve got to be in the top 200 in the world to get a run.”

> VIEW: Caloundra International 2 women’s singles draw

> VIEW: Caloundra International 2 men’s singles draw

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