Parkes junior tennis players to tour USA

Not only talent but work ethic and determination has earned three Parkes teenagers a flight to the USA for a tennis development tour.

This Friday Ben Evans (15), Abbey Kennedy (13) and Jake Magill (15) will no doubt be feeling a little nervous as they board flights to Melbourne to meet with the rest of the team bound for Los Angeles with Parkes coach Helen Magill.

The trio have been putting in an enormous effort of extra training and tournament play over the past 18 months to be as prepared as possible for the enduring month to the USA.

They were selected to tour with Magill and a group of 17 other players from one of the countries’ top tennis academies, the Margaret Court Tennis Academy in Albury-Wodonga.

Every three years the Margaret Court Tennis Academy travels to America for a special tour.

Magill said the trip has been almost 20 years in the making for Parkes, with the academy’s head coach Phil Shanahan working with Magill to make it a reality this year.

The Parkes players were not only selected on their performances but because Magill said they have earned reputations as hard working, responsible individuals who strive to excel in all areas of their lives. 

“Their impeccable work ethic, zest for the sport of tennis and their desire to develop their skill set for the future rather than focus on results, were determining factors,” she said.

“They are all involved in various club activities, are outstanding role models for those around them and will be fine ambassadors for the town of Parkes, their families and themselves.”

Evans, Kennedy and Magill have a busy schedule ahead of themselves.

They will play singles and doubles in three tournaments at Lake Tahoe in Sierra Nevada, Stockton in San Joaquin and Yuba City, plus an Australia versus USA club match in Sacramento.

They will train at the Phil Dent Academy, tour through a college to understand how the American college system works and what scholarships are available to Australian tennis players after they complete their HSC, experience high altitude training and have a couple of days to see the sights – including Disneyland, Universal Studios, Alcatraz Prison and a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The group will experience true American lifestyle and hospitality as they are billeted with different families for the three tournaments.

“It’s certainly going to be quite overwhelming for them,” Magill said.

“Being away from their families for the first time, dealing with different conditions and cultures, but it’s an opportunity that I am very excited to be able to give these three who are all beaut teenagers, a credit to their families and excellent role models for our younger players coming through in the Central West region.

“The Margaret Court Tennis Academy under head coach Phil Shanahan is one of the most respected and highly regarded academies in Australia so it is a privilege for our juniors to be representing the academy as well as Parkes Tennis Club.”

It will be Evans’ and Magill’s first time overseas, with all three players sporting big grins when they were asked what they were looking forward to.

Magill – who’s from Bogan Gate and has been playing tennis since he was nine years old – said he is looking forward to playing in the tournaments, while Evans – who’s been playing since he could walk – is curious to see how the Americans play tennis.

Kennedy – who began playing tennis at 7 – is excited to test her skill in different weather conditions and on different playing surfaces.

Magill said the tour will be a big learning experience for the trio.

“In regards to preparation, each player will have to organise their own grips and over grips for the change in atmospheric conditions in the northern hemisphere, their sets of extra strings and knowing the tension they want their racquets restrung at for pending string breakages,” Magill said.

“Usually these players simply give their racquets to the doyen of regional stringing Hedley Nicholson and he does the rest for them including recording all data.

“Tennis courts in the US will be hard court which is quite demanding on the body with very limited to no sliding so extra socks are required to support their soles and lower legs during long matches with a lot of directional footwork. 

“Recovery will also be a key factor to enable them to back up day after day and prevent injuries. 

“All these areas of importance without parental involvement will see huge growth and development in their self management techniques which, although I will oversee, I’m confident Jake, Ben and Abbey will handle on their own.”

Magill and the players head back to Australia on July 4.

They would like to say a huge thank you to the Parkes community. 

The value of local support can never be underestimated and without major sponsors – Parkes Tennis Club, Parkes Services Club, Ochre Medical Centre Parkes, Parkes Bearings n Parts, Parkes General Practice, Seamount Farm Bed & Breakfast in Ireland, Helen Magill’s Tennis, along with Nangar Gems and the wonderful people of the wider Parkes Shire, across the Central West, throughout NSW and friends and family in other countries – supporting the juniors by purchasing raffle tickets and giving donations, it would have been far more difficult to get them to the USA and give Evans, Magill and Kennedy such a wonderful life experience.