TEENAGE tennis star Jason Kubler should learn this week whether he has earned a wildcard to the opening tournament of 2011.
The 17-year-old from Mango Hill has done his chances no harm with his performances on the court, not to mention a quiet word and then a more public pitch to Brisbane International organisers.
Kubler held the world's top junior ranking during 2010, but it was being named Junior Sports Star of the Year at this month's Queensland Sport awards that really blew him away.
"I was really excited about that,'' Kubler said. "I was thinking about it after I actually won it that's every junior male or female sportsperson in Queensland and I've won it so that was huge for me.''
During the awards ceremony, Kubler sat next to Brisbane International tournament director Steve Ayles, who was impressed by what he saw and heard.
Ayles said: "He said obviously it was his dream to play the Brisbane International.
"I said: `The way you're playing, I don't think that dream will take long to be realised.''
Just for good measure, Kubler cheekily emphasised his wish to play the January 2-9 tournament again during his acceptance speech.
"I would love to play there,'' Kubler told The Sunday Mail. "It's my home city. I train there when I'm in Brisbane, it would be great to play,'' he said.
Young sportsmen often walk a fine line between plucky and arrogant but at a time when some of his contemporaries resemble a brat pack, Kubler is firmly in the first category.
Tennis Australia banned Brydan Klein, 20, Nick Lindahl, 22, and Dayne Kelly, 20, from the Australian Open wildcard playoffs, the final of which is today, because of repeated incidents of "unacceptable behaviour''.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Bernard Tomic has been involved in a series of well-documented controversies, including a feud with Australian No.1 Lleyton Hewitt and most recently his withdrawal from the Australian Open wildcard playoffs.
Tomic pulled out before the tournament started, but came under fire for apparently banking on a discretionary wildcard after being spotted training on the Gold Coast the day the playoffs started.
In contrast, Kubler and fellow Queensland prodigy Ben Mitchell are widely praised for their maturity, dedication and level-headed attitudes.
Kubler suffered some bad luck in his bid for an Australian Open wildcard, forced out before the opening playoff round with a knee problem.
"I woke up in the morning and my knee was swollen,'' Kubler said.
"I saw the physio and they suggested I've still got three or four more big tournaments coming up in the summer so I want to get my knee right for those.''
With a senior ranking of 534, Kubler will have to pin his hopes on a discretionary wildcard for the first grand slam of the year.
It is a situation Kubler does not want to find himself in much more, and he has spent a substantial part of the past year living in Spain to work with former world No.10 Felix Mantilla and play in Europe, particularly on his favourite clay court surface, to improve his ranking.
That will be his priority for 2011.
"I'd like to get my ranking higher so maybe I could play qualis of the grand slams,'' Kubler said.
"If I can get my ranking in the top 300, top 250, that would be good.''
Kubler has been inspired by another Australian who is keen on clay, French Open runner-up Samantha Stosur.
"Sam's been doing really well, which is good to have an Aussie doing well and it helps everyone's belief that even if they didn't grow up on the clay, they can do well on clay later in their career,'' Kubler said.
Mantilla believes Kubler - relatively small at 179cm tall - is showing early signs that he has what it takes to make it, particularly on clay, where he will have to construct his points cleverly.
"He's a kid that's not going to be a massive kid,'' Mantilla said.
"It's going to depend on his development as a tennis player, how he builds, how he'll cope with the pressure in tournaments, with opponents, but there's no doubt that he has a bright future.''