Western Australian junior tennis players Talia Gibson and Derek Pham have claimed the 14/u Australian Championship Singles Titles at the 2018 December Showdown today at Melbourne Park. Pham was also victorious in the 14/u Boys Doubles event.
Gibson progressed to the Final with comfortable two set match wins throughout all rounds.
Gibson then fought hard to beat the number one seed Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (SA), winning the 3-set Final 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.
Earlier this year, Gibson stated that her goal was to win the December showdown at Melbourne Park.
“I lost the semifinal in Adelaide at the Australian Grasscourt Nationals, so I made it my goal to win the final National Championship title at the December Showdown”
“It feels amazing to have won. I haven’t had this feeling before. It’s unbelievable” Gibson said.
Gibson attributes the win to her composure on the court and the confidence that comes with experience.
“I’ve learnt to compose myself on court and to play with respect and etiquette. When you learn to manage your emotions, you play better tennis”
“You have to go after every shot. When things start to get tough, you have to pick yourself up and dig deep” Gibson said.
Coached by Tate Roberts, the right handed champion plays for the Brixton Tennis Club and represents North Beach Tennis Club in the Tennis West State League.
“I’ve got a lot of people behind me. My parents are incredibly supportive and I’m lucky to be coached by Tate and given additional training and development opportunities from the team at Tennis West”
“I’ve been involved in Super 10’s, made state team selections, endorsed for wildcard selections and selected to tour internationally with Tennis Australia” Gibson said.
The December Showdown win sees Gibson’s Australian Ranking (AR) rise to an all-time high of 216.
“My goal is to continue to improve my ranking. I want to get as close to the top 100 as I can” Gibson said.
In a coup for WA tennis, Maida Vale youngster Derek Pham made for an impressive West Australian wipeout in the 14/u Championships when he came from behind to secure the championship title in three sets against Japanese junior Shogo Sanada 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2.
After losing the first set, Pham laughs that it took him a little while to find his mojo.
“It took me a little to warm up this morning but once I found my rhythm I decided to step it up and play aggressively from the baseline. It worked and I got the victory” Pham said.
Pham had a smooth run to the semifinals where he encountered number 3 seed Jett Leong for a three set match eventually winning 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4).
Pham says that he’s been a far more professional competitor during the December Showdown.
“I’ve taken things a lot more seriously this tournament and it’s paid off. I’ve been more conscious in my pre match preparation and have taken the time to find about my opponents” Pham said.
To cap off an already impressive day, Pham then went on to win the 14/u boys Doubles Final with partner Edward Winter (SA) in a convincing 6-0, 6-0 defeat.
WA National Academy Manager Tom George says the players have done themselves, and their state proud.
“All of our West Australian juniors have played incredibly well here in Melbourne Park. Talia and Derek in particular, have held themselves true to the values of the National Academy of Commit, Compete and Respect. We couldn’t ask for anything more” George said.
George says the young players have moved through the tennis pathway from Super 10’s, Talent Development Programs, State Teams, Tennis West Academy and Junior Nationals and are now reaping the benefits of all of their hard work.
“Talia and Derek have reached the pinnacle of success by winning their respective 14/u titles’ George said.
George says that all development programs ran by Tennis West aim to produce champion players that the whole team are proud of.
“We develop champions both on and off the court. Player performance before and after matches is just as important as how they play on court. We’re incredibly proud of the champions coming out of WA” George said.
The December Showdown is an annual event held at Melbourne Park and attracts more than 400 junior players, playing more than 1400 matches over the first two weeks of December.
Players across all states and territories of Australia, as well as players from Asia Pacific countries including China, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Pacific Ocean, India and Indonesia, contend the December Showdown for the 12/u, 14/u, 16/u and 18/u National titles.
December Showdown culminates with the Australian Open 2019 Play-off, with 16 Australian men and women competing to win a prized Australian Open main draw wildcard. The AO Play-off runs from Monday 10 to Sunday 16 December.
For all December Showdown news, draws and order of play please visit here.
Live scores will be available here or download the Tennis Ticker app.