By Greg Allen-Pretty
Twelve of the region’s best young tennis players are competing in an elite competition hosted at the Traralgon Tennis Association.
Four of them are locals who should be attending United States colleges right now, were it not for Covid-19 travel restrictions. Instead they are studying online while maintaining their tennis training at home. The problem however is that there are virtually no tournaments to compete in, robbing them of valuable match play experience.
Head coach at Traralgon, Graham ‘Woofa’ Charlton, came up with a solution: an elite level tournament that keeps the college boys well tuned, while providing an opportunity of advancement for other young up-and-comers. And all within Tennis Victoria’s Covid safety requirements.
The college four are Jack Clements of Inverloch, and Josh Charlton, Ben Grumley and David Hough of Traralgon. Three of them should be scattered across America in Texas, Oregon and Missouri, while David has just finished at San Diego State University, California.
“It’s to provide an opportunity for some match play for the best players around town,” said 18 year old William Woods University student Ben Grumley.
“With no tournaments or comps in Melbourne, Woofa has created this Saturday morning comp at Traralgon with the best players to get some match play, and to practice the things we’ve been doing in training and use them in matches,” Ben said.
The eight round Schnitz Elite Tennis Gippsland competition began last Saturday, comprising six mens’ teams of two players each – six of the best players, each paired with a player of considerable potential (the teams are listed below). They will continue weekly until mid-December, after which Ben and Josh hope to fly out for their next semester in January.
“It really is important to get those games going,” Ben said. “This competition is just what we need, especially when there are so many good kids in the area.”
At this stage, Covid restrictions don’t allow for spectators. However if that changes before the tournament ends, the public will get to see some high standard play from the region’s young tennis elite.
Schnitz Elite Tennis Gippsland 2020 teams:
Josh Charlton (Traralgon)
Damian Hough (Traralgon)
Darcy Nichols (Warragul)
Sam McGregor (Traralgon)
David Hough (Traralgon)
Hugh Dunbar (Traralgon)
David Bulbulian (Inverloch)
Drew Cahill (Warragul)
Jack Clements (Inverloch)
Justin Hough (Traralgon)
Ben Grumley (Traralgon)
Daniel Board (Trafalgar)