BRYCE SET TO MAKE HIS MARK
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
PROOF that local tennis player Bryce Cunningham is making a steady rise up the national rankings is shown by the fact that he's been given an automatic entry into next week's ITF (International Tennis Federation) tournament in Gosford.
Boasting a serve that has been clocked at over 200km per hour, the 17 year-old is seeking a win in Gosford that will give him his first rankings points for something better than a rise up the Aussie ranks, any points would give him a world ranking for the first time in his career.
According to Cunningham's coach Danny Souza, the advantage of not having to play qualifiers to get into the main draw of 64 players that includes players from Croatia, Korea, Estonia and New Zealand, is a huge advantage.
"It's pretty good that he doesn't have to go down and play qualifiers because that can really take a toll, it's like you have to survive two tournaments," Souza explained.
"Usually the guys that come through the qualifying are ragged by the first round."
Cunningham travelled all the way to Perth to make his ITF debut earlier in the summer but unfortuantely ran into the number five seed in the opening round.
Even though he was knocked out in that first roundencounter, the aspiring pro admitted that the time spent in Perth opened up his eyes to a few home truths.
"Just how hard it really is, how hard the circuit is, even the juniors and how much talent is out there and how hard you have to put in to succeed," he said.
"Unfortunately I've had a few bad injuries lately so I haven't been able to train as much but I realise that you have to put in that little bit extra to get there. I think I always realised that but it teaches you after you've seen guys like that."
When the powerful right-hander talks about injuries, it's easy to consider him a tad unlucky during his time of trying to burst onto the scene.
A surfing accident curtailed his summer plans as it brought about a shoulder injury that the youngster has only recently fully recovered from.
With the Perth experience behind him though as well as some valuable lessons learnt at the famed Bollettieri camp in Florida, Cunningham is looking forward to his first round match on Monday and he's a lot more relaxed about this tournament than his nervous start over in the west.
Experience will do that for a young man.
"Knowing what's expected and what I have to do makes it a little bit easier," he said.
"That was my first one so this time I know what has to be done."