Young gun Callum Neal serves down another thunderbolt.
Young gun Callum Neal serves down another thunderbolt. Bruce Thomas

Neal on road to success

TIEBREAK Tennis coach Danny Sousa has seen plenty of young talent come under his tutelage over the years but he thinks he’s found a diamond in the rough in the form of 15-year-old Callum Neal.

Clearly impressed with the skillset that his protege possesses Sousa has predicted that Neal is on the verge of becoming one of Australia’s best players in the future.

“I think he can make the top 100 in the world and that’s the goal that we’ve set,” Sousa boldly predicted.

“We’ve done a plan where we’ll try and get him there in the next seven years.”

It’s not just the talent that has the coach excited after each time Neal practises at the Brelsford park courts.

It’s also his dedication.

Neal lives in Kempsey so he’s forced to travel 450 kilometres each week just to train with Sousa.

“He’s got a lot of talent but that will only take you so far,” the coach said before starting another session.

“The big thing with him is his dedication and his family’s dedication.

“Living in Kempsey and travelling here twice a week means they’re doing six hours a week of driving to do four hours of training and then he plays tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney, even Melbourne.

“In one way it’s a disadvantage where he lives and how far he has to travel but if he makes it to the top he’ll already be sort of travel hardened with games in different countries every week and different tournaments.

“Nothing will bother him because that will be the usual for him.”

Neal already boasts a big serve which is only getting bigger with each centimetre that he grows.

It’s certainly a weapon that helps but the right-hander believes that getting more experience in tournament play has been the greatest contributor to his improved ranking.

“Ever since I’ve started coming up here in the past year or so the results have been better,” Neal said. “I’ve been playing in national tournaments and been playing well.”

Both Neal and Sousa will be travelling to Spain next month and the quietly spoken teenager was quick to answer what it is that he’s most looking forward to when he gets there.

“Seeing the best players in the world and seeing what they do to compete,” he said.

“I’m trying to improve as much as I can and I think that will help.”

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