Gippsland Sports Academy held its graduation session for the Tennis
Victoria Tennis Squad on the weekend, concluding the first year of the
sports existence under the academy’s umbrella.
All ten of the athletes were awarded with graduation certificates and congratulated on their efforts throughout the 12 month program that included four tournaments at various venues around Victoria. Program Manager, Barry Stokes, said it was a very successful and well organised program considering this was the first one of its kind in country Victoria. "All of the athletes have benefited greatly and improved on and off the court…with their land training, nutrition and mental approaches to their tennis." Barry also expressed his appreciation to program sponsor Tennis Victoria, who were a big influence on the program financially and structurally in 2004 helping out with the talent identification process and the delivery of the program via Talent Development Manager Elizabeth Peers.
The program was the first of its kind in the regional academy system, with the program broken into four blocks with a different coach assigned to each. The first term block head coach was Mark Stevens of the Maffra Tennis Club, training and competitions were based around the grass court surface.
All athletes were taken through two training sessions before travelling to Geelong for the national points grass court tournament. The second block of the program saw Graham Charlton as head coach and the surface of choice was en-tous-cas. The touch clay-type surface was used for training at the Tynong Nth and facilities, while the team travelled to North Ringwood for the Nth Ringwood Junior Championships with positive results.
The third block was supervised by Morwell local Andrew Peavey, with the tournament being held in Bairnsdale for the Classic Clay tournament. Two athletes joined the squad, David Donchi and Jo Commerford, with immediate impact. David winning his age group in the singles at Bairnsdale Classic Clay, giving him back to back victories after he won the under 14 title at the Federation Health Junior Tournament in Traralgon the week before.
The final block of the 2004 tennis program saw Jason Burns at the helm. The tournament was the Shepparton Grass Court Championships. Jason put the talented young athletes through their paces at training in Drouin and Sale before making the trip to Shepparton for the competition. It was a great climax for the program with academy athletes in finals everywhere. Chris Thomas took home the under 14 singles title over David Donchi, also Chris won the Under 14 doubles title with Jo Commerford as they beat fellow academy athletes David Donchi and Jarryd Blair.
In the women’s, Jessie Johnstone finished runner up in the under 14 singles but success, pairing up with academy team mate Kate Marshall to take out the 14 doubles title. Jessie Johnstone then went on to claim her second title of the tournament in the Under 16 girls singles, defeating her doubles partner Kate Marshall.
All in all the tennis program was a giant step forward for tennis in Gippsland, giving the talented young tennis players of this region the opportunity to progress through to bigger and higher levels without travelling to Melbourne for assistance. Trials for nominated athletes were held at the Traralgon Tennis Association on the 19th of December under the supervision of Elizabeth Peers, Tennis Victoria’s Talent Development Manager, assisting her was talent identification coach Chris Kashel, also from Tennis Victoria. The squad is to be announced in January.
The program will then commence in the New Year with the first session most likely to be held in Melbourne with Chris Kashel and entry into the KIA Australian Tennis Open 2005.
The Bairnsdale Tennis Club will be holding the 2004 Classic Clay tournament from the 27th of September to the 1st October. The club has been delighted with the number of entries with 128 athletes taking place in the event. The event is part of the Australian National Points circuit for under 14’s and 16’s.
The Gippsland Sports Academy Tennis Victoria athletes will be out in force with all 10 tennis athletes competing in the event. The Academy athletes are currently in the third block of the four block program under the guidance of Morwell Tennis Professional Andrew Peavey.
The squad has been acclimatising to the clay surface in Bairnsdale with their last two training sessions being at the venue. Peavey has been impressed with the athletes attitude, commitment and adaptability to the surface. The Academy is expecting some good outcomes for the tournament, which will not only be results based but also process based. Peavey said, "the athletes have improved quite dramatically and with the experience they have gained for the nine months and the tournaments they have thus far competition in, and with the addition of some new athletes we are expecting some good results".
This week the Traralgon Tennis Club has been holding the Federation Health Junior Tournament in which three Academy athletes, David Waddell (Bairnsdale), Chris Thomas (Traralgon) and Kate Marshall (Pakenham) have had some great results.
David won the Under 14 final after a sluggish start 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, Edward Nunn from Warrnambool. Chris made the Under 15 final but lost to Tim Kulman from Ballarat 6-1, 6-2 and the two boys will be partnering one another in the Under 18’s Doubles final. Kate’s development has continued, winning the Under 14 finals 6-2 and 6-2. So to have three athletes compete and each of them make the final has been a great outcome for the squad and reward for the efforts they have put in.
David Donchi from Bairnsdale, who was a mid program inclusion in the squad is currently competing in the Tennis Professionals Open tournament in Melbourne and also in the qualifications for the National Championships.
Following the Bairnsdale Classic Clay tournament the athletes will commence Block 4 under the tutelage of new Bairnsdale Tennis Professional Jason Burns. Block 4 training will take place in Drouin and then Warragul. The program will then conclude following a Shepparton Lawn Tennis Club tournament from the 7th to 10th of December.
Eight athletes from the Gippsland Sports Academy Tennis Victoria squad competed at the North Ringwood Junior Tennis Tournament in the first week of the school holidays. The squad travelled to North Ringwood under the supervision of Academy Block 2 Coach Graham Charlton.
Mia Allen was the only athlete to compete in the Under 16 section with the rest testing there wears in the Under 14 age group. The athletes played singles and then paired with another squad member to compete in the doubles. The individual performances reflect the improvement of the athletes since the first competition in Geelong over two months ago. At the Geelong tournament a number of the squad hadn’t competed in a points tournament and as a result those athletes were better prepared for the North Ringwood event.
Block 2 Head Coach Graham Charlton said "the athletes set themselves personal goals at the start of the week, not necessarily performance based. The goals were technique, skill and application based and all athletes achieved them."
In the lead up to the North Ringwood tournament the squad trained at both Tynong North and Sale in order to improve their surface adaptability, as the tournament was played on en-taut-ces (clay).
The squad were housed together and were able to implement some of their learnings thus far, such as pre match psychology and nutrition throughout the week. Mr. Charlton was busy on the video camera in order to assess the athletes’ performance and reinforce good play and movement and vice versa for areas they require improvement in. This was a particularly important tool and goals were set for the athletes following matches.
The squad will continue into its third block for the year under the supervision of Morwell Tennis Professional Mr. Andrew Peavey. Andrew will be coaching the next sessions at the Bairnsdale Tennis Club, which is also the venue for the next tournament the Bairnsdale Classic Clay Junior Championships.
David Waddell had a tough draw, and lost in the first round to Nicholas Stafford. It was a hard fought battle with both players having match points early on. Stafford held on to win in 3 sets. The Bairnsdale youngster then went into the consolation draw and had a comfortable win over Shams Shamid (6-0, 6-0), but lost in the third round to Dayne Kelly. In the doubles, David paired up with fellow Academy squad member, Chris Thomas. They played very good tennis, but were over powered in the end by Flanagan and Zalitis (8-4).
Jessie Johnstone had a fantastic tournament, winning three out of six matches. Jessie had a tough first round opponent, but was able to clinch victory 6-4 in the third and deciding set. In the round of 64, Jessie was hardly troubled by Victorian, Clarke Tatje, winning 6-2,6-0 and advancing to the third round. Andrea Spisjak was better on the day against Jessie, in the end Jessie went down 6-4, 6-0. Jessie won another match in the third round of the consolation draw (8-6), but went down in the next round. Jessie also paired with another Academy athlete, Kate Marshall in the doubles, which they lost in an epic 9-8.
WEST GIPPSLAND / CARDINIA
Kate Marshall from Pakenham started the tournament very well, with a win over Victoria Jones in straight sets (6-4, 6-1). Her winning run was short lived, when she was on the receiving end of a 6-2, 6-0 loss to Sarah Stroes. Kate then made it to the third round of the consolation draw, after a strong win over Casey Taylor. Christiana Silvagni, also from Pakenham, did not have luck on her side, but fought hard and made round 2 of the consolation draw.
Mia Allen competed in the Under 16 Age group and lost her first round match against Danielle Boschin (6-3, 6-3), and then went on to make the third qualifiers in the consolation draw. The Inverloch star dominated her match against Ayaka Inazato, winning in straight sets (6-3, 6-2). Her next match was not so simple, and Mia went down 8-3. Games were shortened due to rain delays. Mia paired with Kate Dixon in the Under 16’s doubles event and did well to win their first match prior to almost winning one of the best and most exciting matches of the competition. They toiled hard eventually going down to opponents Keller and Maligsay 6-7, 7-5 and 13-11.
Jarrod Blair from Wonthaggi had a reasonably successful tournament with a first round loss to Josh Cumberland 6-3, 7-6 followed by three good wins and then a loss to end his tournament. He also played in the doubles with Edward Hawke where they were beaten quite convincingly.
Edward Hawke showed some good form during the tournament after losing his first match 6-3, 6-2 to Abe Elbaz. Edward regrouped to win his second match 7-6, 6-4 against Anthony Markovski. In his final match he went down to Liam Winchester 8-3. He also played in the doubles with Edward Hawke where they were beaten quite convincingly. Chris’s tournament didn’t go as well as expected losing both singles matches as well as the doubles with David Waddell from Bairnsdale.
Gippsland Sports Academy Tennis Victoria Coach Mark Stevens has recently returned from successfully competing in the World Veterans Championships, which were held in Turkey. Mark entered the tournament on the back of some terrific form having won the Australian Veterans Championship held in Brisbane in late January.
Mark geared his training regime to peak at the tournament utilising local personal trainer and nutritionist Murray Brady to assist with his preparation. This is only the second time Mark has competed at the World Veterans Championship and heading into the tournament he was ranked 9th in the World.
Mark arrived in Turkey in early May in order to overcome any jet lag and to assist in acclimatisation to the county and environment. The event began with the team’s event being conducted first from the 3rd of May through to the 8th. Australia didn’t do as well as expected placing seventh out of the sixteen team field.
Mark’s individual play was outstanding teaming with fellow Australian Glen Hamilton to reach the final in the doubles competition. They paired well throughout the tournament and were playing competitive tennis eventually falling in the final in three sets.
The singles rounds was Mark’s major focus for the event and he was intending to put in a good enough performance in order to improve his World ranking of 9. Mark again improved throughout the tournament and his confidence soared.
He played well enough to reach the semi finals where he met Frenchman Herve Barbot. The two players exchanged lengthy rallies with Barbot eventually winning in two close sets 7-5 and 6-3. One of the pleasing aspects of the competition was Mark’s performance in reversing a lost he suffered against Pablo Araya last year.
Over the coming weeks Mark will have a bit of a break in order to revitalise himself and nurture some minor injuries. Following this his next immediate focus is to win the Australian Veterans Clay Championship and then improve his performances at the corresponding Veterans World Championship next year.
The Gippsland Sports Academy Tennis Victoria Program training began on Sunday 14th March at the Maffra Tennis Club. This year’s program has been broken in to four blocks with local coaches being appointed for each block and with tournament match play a focus. Eight athletes from throughout Gippsland have been selected for the program.
The tournaments the athletes will compete in this year include the Geelong Grasscourt Championship, the North Ringwood Junior Championship, the Classic Clay Junior Open at Bairnsdale and the NTA Victorian School Boys and Girls Championship. This year’s squad will travel together to each of the tournaments with the respective Blocks coach and receive support and performance feedback from the coach.
The respective coaches and the Block they are in charge of is Block 1 at Maffra – Mark Stevens, Block 2 at Sale Graham Charlton, Block 3 at Bairnsdale Andrew Peavey and the Block 4 at this stage will be taken by a combination of the aforementioned coaches. Academy coaches Mark Stevens and Graham Charlton also recently proved their better playing days aren’t past them with victory in the 2004 Australian Veterans Championships held in late January in Queensland. Mr. Steven’s tournament was extremely successful winning the singles event as well.
The first training session was a chance for Mark Stevens to take the athletes through their paces and get a feel for their skills, temperament and fitness levels. Mr. Steven’s stated the focus of the first training was for the athletes to get an "understanding of what type of player they are combined with hitting a lot of balls on grass, was the theme for the first week of tennis within the Academy. All the kids worked hard and improved over the day.….what more do you want!!!" The training session followed on from the induction day for the athletes a couple of weeks ago, which was held at the Gippstafe Auditorium Yallourn Campus.
The induction day provided insight into the Academy activities as well as an introduction to the Tennis Advisory Panel and the coaches for both the athletes and their parents. The induction day also provided the chance for all athletes to be musculoskeletal assessed in order to identify postural strengths and weaknesses and be put through some strength and conditioning exercises. All of the parents were invited and accordingly attended and involved in the induction day activities with a barbecue lunch also being provided by the Academy.
The Tennis program has a terrific representation from Greater Gippsland with all of the athletes on average thirteen years old. The make up of the program is Jessie Johnstone from Bairnsdale, David Waddell from Nicholson, Jarrod Blair from Wonthaggi, Mia Allen from Inverloch, Chris Thomas from Traralgon, Edward Hawke from Traralgon, Christiana Silvagni and Kate Marshall both from Pakenham.
The next training session will be conducted again at Maffra under the tutelage of Mark Stevens on the 28th of March. The Academy will also be providing a strength and conditioning component with Academy consultant Phil Shelley also preparing take home programs for each of the athletes. The tennis program nutritionist Kerry Otto will also present an integral nutritional information session.
The Academy athletes will then travel by bus to compete in the Geelong Grasscourt Championship from the 4th to 8th of April. They will all be competing in the Under 14 age group as well as pairing with one another to compete in the doubles. The coaching panel are also intending for the athletes to compete in the Under 18 age group simply to get as many competitive matches as possible under there belt.
The Gippsland Academy of Sport is pleased to announce that for the inaugural year of the Academy’s tennis program. The establishment of the Tennis Victoria will be assisting with financial, administrative and coaching support seven. Chairman of the Academy Mr. Darrell White, said "the involvement of this high profile sport is a great development for the Academy and Tennis Victoria’s contribution to the program will be hugely advantageous and beneficial for the Academy and the talented young tennis athletes in Gippsland".
Tennis Victoria ’s Player Development Manager, Elizabeth Peers is equally excited with the new developments. "The Academy is a great opportunity for junior country tennis players and will allow our organization to set a template in order to phase into similar Academies in Regional Victoria", said Peers.
The tennis squad is looking to be divided into two groups; a development squad and an elite advanced group. The two groups will focus equally on improving their game with an emphasis on nutrition, psychology, strength and conditioning, and additional support services. Tennis Victoria plans that the elite group participate in selected tournaments throughout the year, including tournaments in Melbourne.
The Academy Executive Officer, Mr. Robert Coyle is thrilled with the tennis program being added to the existing program, and stated "the initial planning meetings have been very positive and the strategic direction for the program looks to be exciting and will include numerous add-ons for the developing young tennis players in the regions".
At this stage the Academy and Tennis Victoria are proposing a starting date for late November early December, with selection trials being conducted throughout Gippsland a month prior to the finalisation of the squad. The Academy is also seeking a Program Manager for the Tennis Program. The role requires administrative, communicative and planning skills and is a paid position. The closing date for the Program Manager position is the 25th August.
Content ©copyright Gippsland Sports Academy