Brisbane, Australia, 25 September 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Sixteen of Australia’s most promising junior talents are participating in the inaugural Tennis Australia Talent Combine in Brisbane this week.

The four-day event, which began today, is being held at the National Tennis Academy at the Queensland Tennis Centre.

Athletes, as well as an accompanying parent and their private coach, are taking part in a range of different on and off-court activities across a jam-packed schedule.

Two-time Olympian John Millman welcomed the group this morning, encouraging the junior athletes to make the most of the experience.

“I wish we did a bit more of this back in my day,” said Millman, who achieved a career-high ranking of world No.33 in 2018. “The opportunity to train here at the National Tennis Academy is a great initiative.

“The advice that I have is to be confident in yourself, but also recognise on the other hand, that it is a long, and can be quite a tough, journey.”

Australia’s top-ranked woman Kimberly Birrell also shared words of wisdom, noting the importance of being “super grateful”.

“I think back to when I was 13 and just starting, I didn’t really understand the opportunities that were put in front of me and the sacrifices that my parents made to help me follow my dream,” Birrell said.

The 25-year-old from the Gold Coast, who broke into the world’s top 100 last week, also emphasised the importance of off-court development.

“I wasn’t the most athletically gifted kid growing up. I actually really hated doing gym when I was young, it felt really out of my comfort zone,” Birrell related.

“So my advice is don’t be afraid to do some things this week that might feel uncomfortable and ask for help.”

Tennis Australia Talent Combine
2023 participants
Oscar Andrews (15, ACT) Renee Alame (14, NSW)
Nikolas Baker (13, Vic) Georgia Campbell (14, Qld)
Cameron Burton (15, WA) Kimiko Cooper (15, NSW)
Elijah Dikkenberg (14, NSW) Sara Nikolic (14, WA)
Ymerali Ibraimi (14, Vic) Koharu Nishikawa (14, Vic)
Daniel Jovanovski (15, Vic) Jizelle Sibai (13, NSW)
Lachlan King (14, Vic)
Connor McEvoy (14, Qld)
Jeffrey Strydom (14, SA)
Taiki Takizawa (13, Qld)

After undertaking a tour of the National Tennis Academy (NTA) facilities this morning, the athletes then took part in individual strength and conditioning sessions, as well as consultations with a physiotherapist, dietitian and psychologist.

They also met with members of Tennis Australia’s Wellbeing team, Tennis Lab experts and the National Tennis Academy’s Dean of Students.

This was followed by an on-court training session.

“It’s been a fantastic start to the Combine,” Tennis Australia’s Chief Strategy and Performance Officer Tim Jolley said.

Jolley believes the Talent Combine has multiple benefits for all involved.

“It’s a great opportunity for the team here at the NTA to get to know the next crop of juniors that are coming through a lot better and do some baseline testing on the athletes,” he said.

“But it’s very much a two-way thing. It’s also an opportunity for the parents and athletes to get to know the NTA team as well and the facilities that we have here.”

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