Brisbane, Australia, 27 September 2023 | Leigh Rogers

An invitation to join Tennis Australia’s inaugural Talent Combine is reserved only for the nation’s most promising junior athletes.

For those lucky enough to be attending the four-day event at the Queensland Tennis Centre this week, it is proving an eye-opening experience.

Participants have undergone a range of on and off-court sessions with National Tennis Academy staff members and had the opportunity to learn from professional players such as Kimberly Birrell, John Millman and James Duckworth.

> READ: John Millman inspires athletes at Tennis Australia Talent Combine

We asked some of the Talent Combine athletes to share their thoughts and highlights so far:

Renee Alame (14, NSW): “I’m very honoured to be here. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is from John Millman, who said to sit back and smell the roses. I feel like that one really sunk in, that every once in a while you should see how far you’ve come and worked.”

Cameron Burton (15, WA): “The people here are really good. The training has been hard, but it’s nice.”

Georgia Campbell (14, Qld): “Actually at the start I was really nervous to come here … but everyone has been so nice and I’m really happy to be here. So many people have put so much effort into this for us, so I’m grateful I’ve had this opportunity.”

Kimiko Cooper (15, NSW): “I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve liked having the opportunity to come here and play against the best people in the country, having the opportunity to see all the facilities, coaches and everyone that is here to support us. I’ve learned a lot about having to stay disciplined to make sure you do all the right things and be professional.”

Ymerali Ibraimi (14, Vic): “It’s been such a great experience. To see what you need to go through to get to the top, it’s been really amazing.”

Daniel Jovanovski (15, Vic): “Experiencing all these new things, I’ve loved it. The most surprising thing has been how much goes into it and how much the coaches actually care.”

Connor McEvoy (14, Qld): “It’s been going really well and I’ve learned a lot of stuff. It’s been good meeting with all the coaches and players, getting to know them a bit more. It’s been really fun overall.”

Koharu Nishikawa (14, Vic): “It’s been amazing to see the National Tennis Academy. I think it’s been a goal for all of us to be here and to be invited to this combine, so I’m really grateful to Tennis Australia for giving us this opportunity.”

Jizelle Sibai (13, NSW): “The highlight for me has definitely been all the scanning and testing. I like talking about my wellbeing and how my mind can affect how I play. I’m learning a lot about the mental side and putting that into play in the way that I play my matches.”

> READ: What is the Tennis Australia Talent Combine?

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