Youngsters ace season launch

The momentum of the tennis season continues to build after the Lakes Junior Tennis season also took off at Olympic Park on Saturday.

More than 250 kids hit the courts across 11 divisions in the opening round which is the first point of a packed junior tennis calendar from October to March.

Lakes Junior Tennis chairperson Cassie Edwards thanked the volunteers to get the season up and running and said the cold conditions did little the dampen the atmosphere.

“It was really nice to see the kids back on the court,” she said.

“We were all keen to get back out there after the winter sports and we were extremely lucky with the weather.

“We thought we might have some rain, but we had a dry and cool morning which was great to get into the season without any disruptions.”

Edwards said the interest in the sport for the new summer remained strong.

“We have 64 teams across the grades which is four less than last year, but we are still reasonably happy to stay with steady numbers on the court,” she said.

Defending A Boys champions Reidy Park started ominously with a comfortable 6-0 win over Reidy Park/Glencoe.

Mount Schank also overcame West Gambier by the same margin, while Uniting Church was too good for Mount Gambier 4-2.

In the A Girls competition, 2020-21 premier West Gambier kept up its winning momentum with a hard-fought win over Mount Gambier.

Jessica Stutley played an integral role in the 4-2 triumph, while Reidy Park showed dominant form to finish on the victorious side of a six-love battle against Mount Shank/Mel Lel.

Edwards said a lot of the leading individuals warmed up for the season by being shining lights for the South East at the recent Foundation Cup in Berri.

“We had a couple of big results and easy wins in the A Grade boys and girls,” she said.

“The Mount Gambier and Uniting Church A Grade boys contest, while Reidy Park is also looking strong in both grades and there was some great tennis played, so the standard is looking very good.

“We had kids who travelled to the Foundation Cup in Berri so they were in pretty good form with a week of quality tennis, while others may take some to catch, but I am sure they will catch up after a few hits.

“Zayne Young, Jase Maxwell, Jess Stutley and Jorja Mitchell were in good form from their Foundation Cup success, while Will Boston also started the season well.”

Edwards was one of the key personnel behind the South East contingent in the representative tournament and she said all expectations were met.

“We were very pleased because we did not have the greatest lead up because it rained quite a bit leading in and we had to cancel a lot of trainings,” she said.

“So we had to cancel a lot of training and were a bit under-prepared, however we had some fantastic success.

“Four kids made the state team and all teams finished in the top three which was outstanding.”

Despite COVID-19 restrictions still lingering around, Edwards said this summer of tennis was pretty simple to plan with the calendar mirroring the 2020-21 fixture.

“We have been fairly lucky with tennis that we can pretty much go ahead like normal at the moment,” she said.

“We are pretty much running the same season as last year with Saturday morning rounds with singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

“We will continue to have our Lakes Junior Tennis tournaments and one of them is in a couple of weeks’ time at the start of November.

“There is also a tournament in Lucindale and the bronze tournament in March, so it is a big season.”

The junior action is not just restricted to one-on-one duels, Edwards is one of many conducting Hot Shots coaching sessions every week to get the youngest with a racquet in their hand.

For those looking for the perfect summer activity, Edwards said it is not too late to join in the fun.

“I have been running Hot Shots at Olympic Park each week as has Heidi Heemskerk at Mount Gambier Tennis Club with the little kids as well,” she said.

“My sessions are open to anyone and they just need to contact me to join.

“Orange ball hot shots are on Monday afternoon and the red ball sessions are on Thursday.

“But there are also other kids doing private coaching sessions, so there is plenty of tennis on offer at the moment.”

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