Tennis aces are on the radar
TWO young Coffs Harbour tennis players with big futures in the game have come to the attention of talent scouts at the Australian Junior Championships at Melbourne Park.
Krystal Clarke and Ashley Allman, both 14, represented New South Wales at the hardcourt tournament.
Clarke was one of the standout of the tournament, overcoming a quadricep strain that impacted on her run in the Under 14s to impress in the Under 16s draw.
Allman, meanwhile, played some good points before being knocked out in the opening rounds.
Clarke made the Under 14s quarter-finals in both the singles and doubles, before injury forced her to forfeit her semi-final appearances.
Resting up, days later she impressed in her opening Under 16s round match against top seed AIS player Annerly Poulos, and went on to make the final in the doubles finishing runner-up with her partner Natasha Russell from South Australia.
Coach Tony Pollack said Clarke came under the notice of Aussie tennis great and junior talent scout Pat Rafter, who was courtside watching Poulos at the time.
"Both Krystal and Ashley are starting to get noticed on the national level ... I heard Pat who was there watching ask 'who is Annerly playing' and the reply was a girl from country NSW,” Pollack said.
"Without doubt Krystal and Ashley are two of the most improved 14-year-olds in Australia over the past 12-months.”
Pollack said he was regularly giving updates to former Aussie tennis player turned scout Nicole Pratt on their development.
"I often say to the other kids we coach at the Englands Park courts that you don't have to go to the nationals to watch some of the best juniors coming through the ranks - you just have to watch the development of Ashley and Krystal.
"The key point to tennis at the level is the mental aspect. The higher up you get in the game, it becomes 80% mental and 20% everything else.
"Mental toughess and mental aptitude on the court defines the best players.
"My style of coaching is not to place pressure on kids to achieve results; it's all about the development of their game.
"It's a long journey, so winning when you are 14 is not the be all and end all; it's all about the development of the game, so you are a world beater when you are 17 or 18.
"It's all about being able to finish the big points, holding a strong sense of self belief and toughness that above anything else governs the way you play, governs the way you compete and governs your entire outlook on the game.”