It's nice to have you Carsten.
Ball's in Fitzgerald's court
Leo Schlink - Herald Sun
AUSTRALIAN Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald's passion for the future of Australian tennis may have already paid dividends.
Fitzgerald is believed to have been urged by several administrators, players and coaches to apply for the new position of director of player development.
The role has been created in response to a dwindling talent pool, starkly evident by world No. 2 Lleyton Hewitt's lonely presence as the nation's only player inside the men's top 100.
But if TA's selection panel requires evidence of Fitzgerald's enthusiasm, it need only consider talented Carsten Ball's decision to compete as an Australian.
In what shapes as a huge windfall for Australia, left-handed Ball will contest the Uncle Tobys Challenger in Burnie from today under the Australian flag as a wildcard.
The holder of both an Australian and US passport, Ball is the son of former Australian Davis Cupper Syd Ball.
But unlike fellow Californian Taylor Dent, whose father Phil represented Australia, Ball junior has chosen to play for the green and gold instead of the US.
Ball stayed at Fitzgerald's coastal home while winning the International Tennis Federation Victorian junior championship in tough conditions over South Australian Todd Ley at Traralgon last month.
He then reached the quarter-finals of the Australian junior titles, falling in three sets to top seed and eventual finalist Sun-Yong Kim, of Korea.
Fitzgerald and Davis Cup coach Wally Masur have intensified efforts to lure top young athletes to tennis as Australia languishes in senior ranks, apart from Hewitt.
Ball, 17, could be invited to take part in Australia's first-round Davis Cup tie against Austria in Sydney next month as a hitting partner for Hewitt, Wayne Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge.
He will test his game this week against a batch of emerging local talent, including Todd Reid.
Last edited by au_sports_opinion; 07-06-2008 at 11:48 AM.