Paris, France, 6 June 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Yassin Hill is all set to compete in the inaugural junior wheelchair tennis competition at Roland Garros.

“Obviously I’m really excited,” the 17-year-old from Melbourne said. “It’s my first Grand Slam and I’m really looking forward to the experience.”

Roland Garros becomes the second Grand Slam tournament with a junior wheelchair tennis competition, following the US Open’s lead with the introduction of their event in 2022.

“Pushing for a Grand Slam is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since the US Open put a junior Grand Slam in,” Hill said. “Unfortunately I just missed out on it last year, but to have the opportunity to play in the first Roland Garros junior Grand Slam is pretty exciting.”

Hill learned he was one of four junior players to qualify for Roland Garros while representing Australia at the World Team Cup in Turkey last month.

The world No.5 was part of the Australian junior team, alongside Benjamin Wenzel and Jin Woodman, that finished second at the prestigious team event.

“Unfortunately the Americans were too good on the day, but that was a really good campaign for us,” Hill said.

> READ: Australian teams record podium finishes at 2024 World Team Cup

The World Team Cup was played on clay, providing invaluable experience for Hill as he prepares for the biggest clay-court tournament in the world.

“It plays a little bit different to the hard court, there’s a different bounce, a different feel in the chair,” he said about the biggest challenges of competing on the red dirt surface.

“It’s very hard to move, but I can cope with that. It’s all about getting that first explosive push to get moving. Once you’ve got a little bit of momentum behind you, you can start moving really well and get into a rhythm.”

Hill has reason to feel confident about his chances too, having won two junior ITF singles titles and peaked at a career-high ranking of world No.4 this season.

“If I can bring some of that form into Roland Garros, I think I can cause some damage,” he said.

Hill’s sporting prowess comes from his father Anthony, who represented Australia in squash and peaked at a career-high ranking of world No.5 in 1999.

“Dad and I love sport,” Yassin said.

“I’ve always tried to beat his world ranking, it’s a great healthy competition we’ve got. There’s no such thing as wheelchair squash unfortunately, that’s something I would have loved to do.”

A local coach first spotted Yassin playing with his father at the Boronia Tennis Club nine years ago, then alerted Tennis Australia’s National Wheelchair Coach Greg Crump.

“It’s a funny story,” Hill related, explaining how his father used to train with Crump at Box Hill many years ago.

“The tennis players used to do some running with the squash players. With squash being a bit more of an explosive sport in terms of speed, the squash players were helping the tennis players with their speed on court. So they already knew each other.”

After reconnecting, Crump invited Yassin along to a wheelchair tennis coaching session.

“I came along for my first hit and loved it,” he said. “I haven’t looked back since.”

Yassin Hill in action during the Greg Crump Cup at Melbourne Park earlier this year. Picture: Tennis Australia

Yassin Hill in action during the Greg Crump Cup at Melbourne Park earlier this year. Picture: Tennis Australia

Now a national champion who hits most days, Hill also appreciates the social connections he has made through the sport.

“I’ve got some friends now from all over the world,” he said. “It’s pretty cool being able to travel the world and meet new people everywhere you go.”

Hill’s busy schedule also includes completing year 12 at Yarra Hill Secondary College in Mooroolbark, as well as competing in the Victorian Wheelchair Football League.

He scored more than 100 goals last season, was crowned the league’s best and fairest player and won a premiership representing Hawthorn.

“It was probably one of the best moments of my life,” Hill said of the premiership. “Being a Hawthorn supporter as a kid, you don’t really think about playing football in a chair. So to be able to play for the club you’ve always grown up loving and supporting, it was a pretty cool moment for me.

“I’m pretty lucky to being playing for the Hawthorn Football Club, not many people get to do that.”

Tennis, however, remains Hill’s number one priority. He is determined to pursue a professional career, then sees himself becoming a tennis coach.

“Hopefully I can have a long career and be one of the best tennis players,” he said. “I’m also really looking forward to helping the younger kids coming through at some point.”

He lists Heath Davidson, who is also competing at Roland Garros this year, as one of his biggest inspirations.

“I’ve known Heath since I started,” Hill said. “He’s been someone who has taught me a lot. Not only on the court, but off the court as well.”

Aussies in action – Roland Garros

Quad wheelchair singles, quarterfinals
Guy Sasson (ISR) d Heath Davidson (AUS) 6-0 6-2

Wheelchair boys’ singles, semifinals
Yassin Hill (AUS)
v [2] Ivar Van Rijt (NED)

Wheelchair boys’ doubles, final
Yassin Hill (AUS)/Ivar Van Rijt (NED) v Ruben Harris (GBR)/Maximilian Taucher (AUT)

Quad wheelchair doubles, semifinals
Heath Davidson (AUS)/Donald Ramphadi (RSA) v [1] Sam Schroder (NED)/Niels Vink (NED)

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