Brisbane, Australia, 9 April 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Excitement is building for this week’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier tie in Brisbane.

Among the thousands of fans set to watch Australia’s top women compete at Pat Rafter Arena, are participants from Tennis Queensland’s Emerging Leaders program.

Lily Walters, a second-year participant from the Kawana Tennis Club, is travelling from the Sunshine Coast to attend.

“It’s awesome to be going to the Billie Jean King Qualifier, it will be cool to see how the teams play,” the 18-year-old said.

“My favourite Australian player is Daria Saville because she just never gives up.”

> READ: Saville reclaims Australian No.1 ranking

Walters started playing tennis aged seven and has been coaching for the past three years.

“Having the opportunity to attend the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier as part of the Emerging Leaders program encourages me to keep going with my tennis career,” she said.

“Being able to see all these women represent their country doing what they love, inspires me to get out there and keep coaching and doing what I love.”

Emma Small, from the Mooloolaba Tennis Club, is also travelling down to the event from the Sunshine Coast.

The 16-year-old completed the Emerging Leaders program last year and is now undertaking a school-based traineeship as a tennis coach.

“I’m so excited to be watching the Australian team play,” Small said.

“I can’t wait to see Taylah Preston play, she’s only 18 years old, two years older than me, and playing so well.”

> READ MORE: Taylah Preston to make Billie Jean King Cup debut following rapid rise

Tennis Queensland’s Emerging Leaders program aims to provide practical and skills-based learning to help participants progress in the tennis industry.

It is a year-long course, with an option to do a phase-two component in the second year.

“Having strong female leaders is critical so women and girls have a voice in their local communities, can influence decision making and enrich the playing experiences for women and girls,” Tennis Queensland CEO Kim Kachel said.

“We are extremely proud of our Emerging Leaders program which gives our next generation of women and girls an opportunity to upskill for a career in tennis.

“Giving our Queensland emerging tennis leaders an opportunity to be involved with the Billie Jean King Cup, the biggest women’s team event in tennis, is something they will remember for a long time and will make a significant impact on our local tennis clubs and communities.”

The two-day Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Qualifier tie, which sees Australia take on Mexico, begins on Friday 12 April.

Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster, with adult prices starting at $20, concessions from $16, kids from $5 and family passes (two adults and two children) starting at $45.

> BUY NOW: Billie Jean King Cup tickets

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