Country kids dealt wild-card blow
THOSE tuned into Channel Seven's Australian Open coverage of Bernard Tomic's win over Sam Querrey on Wednesday night, will recall the effusive praise being dished out to Tomic's younger sister, Sara.
Commentators Bruce MacAvaney and Jim Courier labelled the youngster the best under 14s player in Australia, and went on to detail her spot in the Australian Open juniors tournament which begins next week.
Unfortunately for local player Taylah Beckman, those words would have cut like a thousand razors.
Beckman beat Sara Tomic in a doubles match last year, and has been regularly matching it with the best in the country all season.
However, the Clarence Valley youngster was overlooked for a wild-card entry to the highlight tournament of the year, in favour of Tomic and a number of her other city counterparts.
And Beckman wasn't the only one. Fellow Graftonite Brittany Huxley also missed a spot in the junior open by the narrowest of margins.
The Clarence Valley may have the new facilities to match any tennis training centre in the world, but its location outside the major metropolitan areas is costing local players a chance at the elite level according to tennis coach, and Taylah's uncle, Phil Beckman.
"Country kids find it hard to make it into these tournaments purely because they are not from the cities," Beckman said.
"There is a lot more to the selection processes for these big junior tournaments than what you see on the surface.
"You'll find some city kids will be accepted purely because their coaches are sitting on the selection panels."
City players also have the benefit of having higher ranked events being played regularly right on their doorstep.
This helps city players accumulate more ranking points per event, besides having more opportunity to do so than their country cousins.
Beckman doesn't have a case of sour grapes. The long-time tennis coach has travelled the world playing the game he loves and is not out to fight a crusade for his niece Taylah.
He knows his students have to be extra good to break into the top level, and is confident that if they are good enough, they eventually will.
"These kids are still very young, and they have plenty of time up their sleeve," he said.
"However, it would still be nice to believe they were playing on an even court."