Bryce Cunningham serving during the recent Coffs Harbour Open tennis tournament after attending a coaching camp in the United S
Bryce Cunningham serving during the recent Coffs Harbour Open tennis tournament after attending a coaching camp in the United S

Ace for Cunningham

By JACQUI LUMB

ANDY RODDICK, Chris Evert and Tatiana Golovin are just some of the world class stars Kororo tennis player Bryce Cunningham, 16, has rubbed shoulders with with during his sixteen years.

Bryce recently travelled to Miami, Florida where he was apart of a six week intensive training camp at Evert's Tennis Academy, instigated by former world number one Chris Evert.

With 30 coaches, three gym instructors and two mental conditioning trainers, Bryce said the camp offered a high standard with about 80 athletes living on the grounds of the academy and another 50 coming each day.

"There were a lot of intrnational players, heaps from South America, and there were also some French," he said.

" There were a lot from North America of course, but there were also some from the Bahamas and Jamaica.

"We were playing tennis for about six hours a day, doing two hours of gym and then we'd work with the mental conditioning trainers for a bit about stuff like tactics and etiquette on court, like not throwing your racquet."

To apply for a position at the academy players must be of a good standard, but they do get graded once they arrive.

Realizing that Bryce was committed after travelling from Australia, the coaches had one on one intense training sessions with him, sometimes lasting eight hours.

One person who had coached Pete Sampras as a youngster pushed him so hard in a training session that Bryce was physically sick on court.

This is the second year that Bryce has been to the academy.

Last year he attended the camp with his parents and sister Chanel, who also took part.

He says he has picked up a lot from the camp and his Coffs Harbour coach Danny Sousa, has been able to work well with Bryce's new knowledge and techniques.

While at the camp, world number three Andy Roddick came in and talked with the students and after a quick chat Bryce found Roddick 'really nice and very laid back.'

Even though the French Open was on during Bryce's time in America, Chris Evert, who was world number one for seven years, found time to drop into the Academy for a couple of days to coach and play with the students.

He had a doubles muck around game with her, saying it was one of the highlights of the six weeks.

He also had the chance to play a singles training match against women's 26th seed Tatiana Golovin, who had also been coached at Evert's Academy.

"It's a great inspiration to be able to play with these players because it makes you rise to a higher level," Bryce said.

Bryce has played tennis since he was three years old and is inspired by successful Australian players like fourth ranked player in the world Lleyton Hewitt.

"I look up to him because of his never-say-die attitude," he said.

The 16 year old is currently studying at John Paul College, however hopes to one day travel the world playing in the ITF or Satellites, the professional tournament one tier down from the top competition, and then progess to the top level.

Bryce has spent his holidays competing in the Australian National Championships, which attracted the best junior players from around Australia was hoping to reach the quarter finals.

He has beenspending a considerable amount of time at the Coffs Harbour Tennis Club, currently training four days a week, with coaches Sousa and Jenny Dimond, in preparation for his tournaments.

He has also been offered a coaching position by Sousa, working with younger players from primary school age to about year eight.

Bryce has also just been given the great news that he has won two tickets, from the Advocate's competition, to sit at the table of Tony Roach, coach of world number one Rodger Federer's coach and Australian tennis great, on October 11, when he visits Coffs Harbour to speak at an intimate dinner at Nautilus Resort.

As part of the prize he will also attend a one hour training session earwith the tennis great, which will surely be an amazing experience for the young player.



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