READY TO GO: Mullumbimbys Stephen Gort hits a backhand in this file photo.
READY TO GO: Mullumbimbys Stephen Gort hits a backhand in this file photo.

Gort gets set to head to the US

By STEVE SPINKS

MULLUMBIMBY'S Stephen Gort looks at the competitors in the Australian Open with envious eyes.

He desperately wants to become a professional tennis player.

And he's taking his next step in February by heading to the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in the US for three months.

"It will be pretty full on," Gort said.

"It's five hours a day and I play about six tournaments. It's pretty exciting."

Although he's travelled extensively within Australia to compete, this will be the 18-year-old's first time overseas.

It's an opportunity that fell into his lap.

"I was down at the Medibank (Sydney International) last year with some guys from Mullum and one of them sort of knew John Newcombe's son Clint," Gort said.

"Greg (Southern - Mullum Tennis Club president) and I went down and had a hit with Clint at his house for a couple of hours and after that he asked if I wanted to go over."

While it was easy to say yes, the costs involved are considerable.

However, with the aid of the Mullumbimby Tennis Club and the local community Gort has raised most of the money.

Gort is ranked 151 in Australia at the moment and he knows it is a long road ahead if he ever wants to compete in the grand slam tournaments.

But he's on the right track as his victory in the Coops Under-18s tournament last weekend proves. It was a national ranking tournament.

The baseliner has another tournament at Kawana this weekend before he heads to the US.

Meanwhile, his club is embarking on a membership drive this month.

The Mullumbimby Tennis Club will be holding two open days on Saturday January 19 and on Saturday January 26 between 3pm and 8pm.

Free racquets, balls and courts will be available at the club situated near the Mullumbimby High School.

Twenty-five Head racquets will be supplied as demonstration racquets for those wishing to upgrade or get into the game. For any further information contact club president Greg Southern on 0427 788 773.



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