Australia, 26 October 2023 |

As we count down to January and the beginning of the Australian Open, Victorians are set for an early taste of the Grand Slam as the magnificent AO trophies tour the state, visiting more than 20 communities as part of AO on the Road.

This year the popular trophy tour will travel to Victorian communities that were impacted by last summer’s terrible floods. The much-loved Norman Brooks Challenge Cup and Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup will begin their journey in Mildura tomorrow, before travelling to community events in Rochester, Echuca, Wahgunyah and Shepparton over the coming weeks.

These visits will coincide with the Australian Tennis Foundation’s (ATF) Rally as One program, which supports communities devastated by natural disasters with free community events, infrastructure projects and tennis programs.

Since its inception in 2020, the Rally as One initiative has assisted thousands of people in dozens of communities, providing grants to help rebuild facilities and running programs to support social community connection.

> LEARN MORE: About the Rally as One program

AO on the Road will conclude at the Inter-Regional Championships, as it has for several years now, which will be held in Benalla in early January. From there, the trophies will begin their journey back to Melbourne for the Australian Open.

“AO on the Road is a fantastic initiative. It brings the prestige and excitement of the Australian Open to regional areas, while showcasing Victoria’s incredible tennis communities who do so much important work,” Australian tennis champion and former Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald said.

“This past year, when so many communities have been hit hard by devastating floods, tennis communities have come together to support one another and to rebuild. It’s wonderful that we can bring the trophies to these areas and come together to celebrate their resilience.”

AO on the Road is supported by the State Government through Visit Victoria.

“The Australian Open is bigger than two weeks of elite competition – it captures the hearts of Australians right across the country and inspires our future players. For many people it is the reason they visit Victoria in the summer months, and they’ll add a range of other experiences to their itinerary while here. Of course, it also has the power to bring communities together through initiatives like AO on the Road,” said the Hon Steve Dimopoulos, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events.

As part of the tour, ‘Norm’ and ‘Daphne’ as the trophies are affectionately known, will travel to a number of schools and tennis club open days, where kids will have the chance to try new look Hot Shots Tennis.

The newly invigorated Hot Shots Tennis is one of the biggest changes to the sport in Australia. The new-look program has been redesigned and refreshed to appeal to current players as well as a new generation. Hot Shots Tennis now offers greater flexibility and choice with a specific focus on engagement and fun at every stage, age and ability. In addition, the program will now place a bigger emphasis on values and life skills to create good people and good players.

Throughout AO on the Road, tennis legends including John Fitzgerald will make special appearances, meeting fans and visiting some of Victoria’s unique landmarks. Players and members of the community will have the chance to pose with the AO silverware, like so many AO champions have before them.

AO on the Road is delivered by Tennis Australia and Tennis Victoria, with support from Visit Victoria and the Australian Tennis Foundation, which provides relief for young people and their families experiencing challenging life circumstances through fun, engaging tennis and social activities.

Find your way to play: Visit to get out on court and have some fun!