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A country ace

JUNIOR tennis protégé Danielle Polack has been selected for New South Wales Country and is off to the Medibank Challenge at Homebush Tennis Centre on Friday, January 16.

The best four girls and best four boys aged ten years and under will challenge their city-based counterparts at the same time as the Medibank International is being contested.

Northern NSW girls have claimed three places with Gaby O'Gorman (Gunnedah) and Georgia Allen (Grafton) joining Danielle in the squad.

Danielle was getting some last minute practice yesterday at the Ballina Open where she was engaged in B Grade singles and partnering her mum in doubles and admits to getting more excited as the big moment draws closer.

“There isn't much reason to be nervous because we don't know much about the ones we'll be playing,” she said.

“I think I'd be more nervous when we meet the big-name players.”

The girls and boys will get ample time for star spotting as they'll be introduced to the crowd on centre court between the first and second men's semi-finals.

Players were selected following a range of tournaments and Danielle received her ticket after playing top-seed Gaby O'Gorman at Sawtell last November.

“Gaby is a very good player and that's the closest I've come to beating her,” she said.

“I lost the final 7-6 after it was 14-12 in the tie breaker, the first time I've managed to get that far.

“So I think the top three are now very close.”

The emergence of Danielle and older sister Jessica - ranked No 1 for 15 years and under girls on the North Coast - has encouraged their coach and mentor, dad Tony Polack, to consider increasing his tennis commitments in 2009. Besides running the family newsagency in Coffs City Centre he already guides a small team of talented juniors at Coffs Harbour Catholic Club.

“A couple of afternoons each week I think I can get away from work around 2.30pm and now that the girls are going so well, the urge is there to do more coaching,” he said.