CENTRAL West High Performance Unit head coach Stuart Thompson is a happy tennis mentor.
And it’s easy to see why.
At last weekend’s Parkes Junior Open, a silver ranked Open Junior Tournament attracting the best young tennis players from across NSW and Adelaide, the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne, Thompson’s brightest young prospects shone.
Orange’s Luke Petraglia and Wellington’s Emily Rath finished runners-up in the boys’ under 16s and girls’ under 16s opens respectively, earning praise from Thompson in the process.
“These kind of results go a long way towards us securing the goal of top 10 in the state,” Thompson said, with both already two of the top players in their age groups in NSW.
Kicking off the three-day tournament last Saturday, Petraglia defeated Rhyan Heinzel 6-0, 6-0 in the round of 16 before accounting for second seed Alexander Jong in another dominant outing 6-2, 6-1.
In the semi-finals, Petraglia edged number four seed Jake Okines in a thrilling encounter, winning the three-hour marathon 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
In the final, top seed Jeremy Slee claimed the title with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 defeat of Petraglia.
Amazingly, the Parkes Open was Slee’s 32nd tournament this year.
“It’s basically one (tournament) a weekend. Jeremy is a full-time tennis player. Basically he plays tennis and goes to school part-time,” Thompson said, with Petraglia seeded nine heading into the tournament.
“For Luke to push a player like Jeremy ... it was neck-and-neck there in the final.
“I was extremely happy with Luke’s work ethic and his improved tenacity on the court.
“He was probably on top there at the end of the second set but lost a couple of close games in the third there. Jeremy’s matchplay and experience got him over the line.”
Rath, the number two seed heading into the tournament, lived up to the billing.
Rath defeated Tiana Tanti (6-0, 6-1) in the quarter-final and progressed past the semi-final stage with a sound victory (6-3, 6-2) over Jacinta Pang.
Against number one seed Emily Osmond, also Rath’s doubles partner at the tournament, the Wellington tennis ace went down 6-3, 6-2.
The duo then won the doubles title against the Pang sisters, Jacinta and Stephanie, winning 10-5 in the super tie-break after the first two sets were shared.
“That’s a very good result,” Thompson said, with Eglington’s Grace Schumacher also winning the 12s and under age group.
“I’m pretty happy with all of the results out of the squad so far, in all age groups, the 16s, 14s and 12s. If we maintain this sort of improvement we’ll see some huger results later in the year.”
Thompson’s team will now head to the Champion of Champions tournament this weekend.