Former world No.1 players Kelly Wren (NSW) and Archie Graham (Qld) will lead a nine-person Australian team at the second edition of the Virtus European Summer Games in Krakow, Poland from 16 to 24 July.
The competition, hosted by the International Organisation of Sport for people with a Disability (IOSD), is the first of its kind to be played since the COVID-19 pandemic forced international competition to be cancelled.
Wren will be joined by Carla Lenarduzzi (Vic), Breanna Tunny (Qld) and debutant Andriana Petrakis (SA) in the women’s competition.
On the men’s side, Graham will compete alongside Timothy Gould (Qld), Mitchell James (Qld), Damian Phillips (NSW) and seventeen-year-old debutant Luke Barker (Qld).
Gould currently holds the No.1 world ranking for II-2 competition and Barker is a junior player on the rise who sits a top of the Australian rankings for those 18 years and under.
Wren, who first played internationally in 2002, says she can’t wait to get on the plane for Poland.
“It will be great to be over there, to be on the court, having a hit and really challenging yourself since we haven’t played for two years,” she said.
“The standard is a lot higher when you compete overseas. There are a range of European players that maybe I haven’t played against before. That makes tennis very interesting, when you haven’t met or played against that particular player if they are new to the sport.
“It’s always interesting for people like me, all the young ones are coming in now. And I’ve been around for a long time, so I get it and I see it. I’ve noticed a difference.”
The world No.3 says she was lucky to be able to train during the pandemic.
“I was very fortunate where I lived, I didn’t have to travel too far for training.
“The complex where I train at [Shaun Hibbert Tennis Academy in Engadine, NSW], it closed for 2-3 weeks, that was it. This is where I count myself lucky.
“I also had my exercise bike and I had my trainer which has a ball and a piece of elastic which rebounds back to you. I could use my racquet. I bought that from a sport store where I work, so I was doing that so I could hit and still know how to play!”
For Graham, he believes the Australian team heading to Poland will be a force to be reckoned with.
“Everyone has been looking forward to travelling again, it’s been a while,” he said.
“I still think we will be a dominant force. We have been world champions for the last five years.”
Head Coach Alison Scott further emphasised the opportunity this upcoming trip overseas presents to the team and its newest debutants.
“After an extended period without international competition, we’re so excited to head to Poland and compete on the world stage once again,” she said.
“We’re proud to introduce Australia’s No.1 junior boy Luke Barker and women’s No.3 Andriana Petrakis to the team, who are both valued assets.
“As defending champions, the team have all worked diligently and I look forward to seeing all their hard work pay off.”
Before travelling overseas, the team will compete at the Brisbane Open from 1 to 3 July followed by a training camp on the Gold Coast.
The European Summer Games are the precursor to the Virtus Global Games 2023 which will be in held in Vichy, France from 4-10 June 2023. Australia won the last tournament when it was held in Brisbane in 2019.
|Name||Age||Suburb||International Ranking||Events playing in Poland|
|Carla Lenarduzzi||38||Camberwell, Vic||II-1 Singles – #4
II-1 Doubles – #1
II-1 Mixed – #3