Brisbane, Australia, 28 September 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Organisers have labelled the inaugural Tennis Australia Talent Combine a major success.

Sixteen athletes, aged between 13 and 15, took part in the four-day event which concluded today at the Queensland Tennis Centre.

There were also education sessions for parents and private coaches across a jam-packed schedule.

“It’s been a great event,” said Ben Pyne, Tennis Australia’s National Player Support Program Manager.

“It’s been great to see all the private coaches, parents and players coming into one place to train and really test themselves against each other.

“We’ve had a lot of fun too. We’ve done a high ropes course and lots of challenging things like an escape room. It’s been great to see everyone out there competing and really working together to see Australian tennis really grow.”

Elijah Dikkenberg during a Tree Top Challenge at Mount Tamborine. Picture: Tennis Australia

According to Pyne, all athletes made the most of the opportunity.

“They’ve come in with a great attitude and really tried to test themselves,” he said. “It’s been a really great growth opportunity for everyone.”

Paul Vassallo, Tennis Australia’s Director of Talent, believes the camaraderie between the athletes is encouraging.

“We came here with a pretty high expectation of what we wanted to see and what we thought the athletes would get out of it,” Vassallo said.

“They all got along great, which is really positive, given the fact they’re hopefully going to be together for another 10, 15, 20 years.”

> READ: Athletes reflect on lessons gained at Talent Combine

Vassallo was also impressed with the athlete’s on-court performances.

“The matches have been quite high intensity, especially given the fact they weren’t playing for a trophy or points or a rating,” he said.

“It’s been really impressive to see them go out there every day and compete really hard.”

Vassallo was also happy with the level of engagement from parents and coaches throughout the combine.

“There’s been a lot of information going back to the parents and a lot of questions back from the parents, which has been really helpful,” he said.

“The more questions we get, the more we can think about our services and how we can provide for the athletes and the coaches.”

> READ: Coaches undergo “eye-opening” education at Talent Combine

The plan is for the Talent Combine to become an annual event.

“We will do it again next year. We’ll probably just look at the timing,” Vassallo said, revealing they’d likely look to hold the 2024 event earlier.

“If we can capture all the data and provide all the education that we have now so deep into the year, if we can get that to the next cohort of players much earlier in 2024, then I hope we’d be a long way ahead by the end of the year as compared to where we are now. This has been a good year, but we want to make next year even better again.”

Pyne added the goal is to make the Talent Combine “a real big event every year on the calendar for our young juniors and aspiring professionals”.

“We’ll be looking at inviting the 2010 birth year next year, so for the 2010 players out there, get yourself ready and start training hard,” he said.

> READ: John Millman inspires athletes at National Combine

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