New Article from the age:
IT WASN'T so long ago that Australia's most promising tennis product wasn't playing for Australia.
When Andrew Thomas burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced 12-year-old, Ian Barclay — the man who guided Pat Cash to Wimbledon glory — described him as the best junior he had ever seen. It seemed only a matter of time before the right-handed slugger was following in the footsteps of Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt.
Enter Marcos Baghdatis. The Cypriot stole our hearts in his incredible run to the Australian Open final in 2006. And he nearly stole our best junior when he returned to our shores the following year. On the lookout for a hot prospect to partner him at Davis Cup level, Baghdatis stumbled across a brash baseliner with all the tools. Turns out that Thomas was eligible to play for Cyprus, because his mother was born there. Money was offered, promises made. Thomas ditched Australia and called Cyprus home.
Tennis Australia was not amused. Money and time had been spent developing Thomas into a gun player and just as TA was about to reap the rewards he packed his bags for Cyprus.
So why did Thomas, now 18, decide to come back?
"Obviously, I was a proud Aussie and I'd do anything to play for Australia," Thomas said. "At that time I felt like it was the right choice. Obviously now, I'm happy where I am.
"The worst-case scenario was I'd go to Cyprus but, obviously, I was happy representing and playing for Australia. I didn't really want to move so I decided I'd come back here straight away." It's a good thing too. Australian Open organisers are about to send out invitations for the wildcard play-offs, which begin tomorrow, and Thomas is expected to get a start.
A star in the junior ranks, having won the Orange Bowl in the US and the Japan Open juniors, he is ready to make a mark on the professional circuit. "My main goal is obviously to win an Australian Open," he said. "Every practice session, that's my eventual goal. I'm thinking about that, working hard and hopefully taking the right steps to get there."
There are some more immediate goals. "Top 300 by the end of next year would be a good goal," he said. "Everyone says I have the game and the talent, so that's a positive for me. It all really comes down to hard work."
Unfortunately it looks like he's only been listed as an alternative for the AO Wildcard playoffs. Maybe theres still some bad blood between him and Tennis Australia?