Queensland building a brighter future for Australian tennis
Tennis Queensland have begun a new era in Australian tennis by putting in place a radical $10 million regional tennis facilities program that will see five different tennis facilities built all across the state in an attempt to grow the game from grassroots level.
The first of five facilities was built in the tropical north of Cairns and was completed in August last year, just in time to host a professional ITF futures tournament. The profile of the tennis centre was lifted when Tennis Australia announced that the Davis Cup world group playoff tie between Belgium and Australia would take place on the newly built plexicusion center court in Cairns. The mere fact that former world number 1 Lleyton Hewitt graced the courts up north shows the worth of the of the program towards Australian tennis.
Construction of the second regional tennis facility is under way and again north Queensland is being targeted. This time it is Townsville who have aspirations of hosting professional tournaments and maybe one day a Davis Cup tie as well. “The Townsville Regional Tennis Centre will first and foremost be a community tennis centre, but will also be capable of hosting major events and tournaments,” Mike Blomer, Facilities Development Manager for Tennis Queensland said.
Queensland boasts a long and successful history in tennis with perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time hailing from Rockhampton. Rod Laver, a two time winner of the Grand Slam is still regarded as one of the best tennis players of all time and began his career in the small town of Rockhampton. Fast forward almost 50 years and Queensland is the hometown to the world number 5 Samantha Stosur and has produced young prospects such as two time junior grand slam champion Bernard Tomic, former world number 1 junior Jason Kubler and 2010 Junior Wimbledon finalist Ben Mitchell, all three of which began their professional tennis careers competing in Queensland events.
Queenland currently hosts 5 professional events in the year and with the likely introduction of a Townsville tournament later this year more Queensland prospects will have the chance to showcase their skills on the highest level. Only time will tell whether the regional facilities program will succeed but all the signs are pointing towards a rebirth in Australian tennis and Queensland is certainly leading the way for the other states.
Hopefully Townsville and the other three venues all get to host futures events in the next few years and tennis continues to grow in Queensland.