VETERAN WINNERS: Leanne Swaysland, left, and partner Ros Balodis at the Seniors Tennis World Chamionships in South Africa in 20
VETERAN WINNERS: Leanne Swaysland, left, and partner Ros Balodis at the Seniors Tennis World Chamionships in South Africa in 20

By ADAM HICKS

Age is an advantage for the Ballina New Year Tennis Open number three seed Leanne Swaysland.

The 47-year-old said she was feeling no pressure while preparing to face girls 30 years her junior in the tournament that starts tomorrow at the Ballina Tennis Club.

"No I'm not worried about playing young legs," she said. "They hit the ball very, very hard. I know that but you've just got to be more consistent and chase down a lot of balls. I have to do that anyway because I am small."

The 155cm left hander is using the tournament as a lead up to the Australian Veteran titles in Albury later this month where she hopes to repeat her success of last year.

Swaysland was selected in the Australian team that contested the World Veterans Titles in Turkey and captured a silver medal in the doubles after she finshed runner up at last year's Aussie Titles.

It was the second time she was runner-up at the World Titles after a similar result in South Africa in 2006.

Ranked eighth in Australia as a 19-year-old, Swaysland chose not to pursue a professional career.

"After I left school I decided to take a year off and just play tennis and I didn't enjoy it," she said.

"I decided not to turn professional because I didn't like the lifestyle. I liked home better. I enjoyed it back then, but now there's no pressure you just go out to have a good time.

"I still like to win but it's not the be all and end all."

But the game has evolved from when she started playing as a 10-year-old.

"It's a totally different game now," she said.

"They very rarely slice ... there are a lot more multi-segmented forehands (which translates to a weird grip) they just hit ball a lot heavier these days."

Swaysland's husband Wayne will play in the Over 35s division.

He was an Australian Junior Doubles Champion in 1975 and some of his contempories include Davis Cup Players Brad Drewitt, Peter Doohan and Kelly Evernden.

The duo are just two of 239 competitors vying for a share of the tournament's $6,500 purse.

Leanne faces tough competition from number one seed Jessica Schaer who is currently ranked 27 in Australia. Lismore's young gun Ellie Wray is also expected to feature well, starting as number two seed.

The men's draw sees Ireland Davis Cup player Peter Clarke and former Wimbledon and Australian Open player Mark Draper start as favourites.



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