MAKING A MOVE: Chris Letcher, 23, of the Gold Coast gets in some practice for the Ballina New Year Open.
MAKING A MOVE: Chris Letcher, 23, of the Gold Coast gets in some practice for the Ballina New Year Open. DAVID NIELSEN

Big boys renew junior rivalry

FORMER foes on the junior circuit, Adam Feeney and Chris Letcher, will renew acquaintances at the Ballina New Year Open tennis tournament which begins today.

The tier three tour event has attracted a quality field, particularly on the men’s side of the draw, where half the players have an Australian ranking under the 300-mark.

Feeney, 23, who has played Grand Slam events such as Wimbledon and the Australian Open, is the tournament’s top seed, while Letcher, 23, is a two-time winner of the Ballina event.

Both players are pretty familiar with each other’s games after butting heads on the junior tour many times.

“I know him from our junior days together,” Feeney said. “He’s a good player and I’m going to have to play well if there are players of his quality in the field.”

Feeney had been hoping to crack a spot at the Brisbane International, but when he missed out, headed to Ballina for some much-needed match practice in the lead-up to the Australian Open in Melbourne starting on January 19.

He’s ranked No16 in Australia and No365 in the world and has had a measure of success in the doubles of two Grand Slam events.

With partner Carsten Ball, Feeney reached the third round of the men’s doubles at the Australian
Open last year and also qualified for Wimbledon, where he combined with a Swedish partner Johan
Brunstrom to win a match in the main draw.

“I had played junior Wimbledon before, so I had a feeling of what it would be like to play there, but I was still excited to go and play in the main draw and grass is my favourite surface,” Feeney said.

“I serve and volley a fair bit, so grass helps my game as it tends to be shorter rallies.”

Although Feeney has never played in Ballina he said he’d only heard ‘good things’ about the tournament.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into it. I’m expecting to do well and I’ve been playing really well. I hope to grow in confidence with each match that I play,” he said.

Letcher, who last won the event in 2007, installed Feeney as the favourite for the title.

“It should be excellent, Adam is playing and he is the one to beat,” Letcher said.

“Matterson Klein and Brendan Moore are also going to be highly competitive.”

Letcher has spent the past 15 months coaching at Griffith but is keen to get more tournaments under his belt this year and improve his ranking.

“I’m definitely going to give it everything I’ve got. I’m 23 now, so I better start making a move.”

Play at the Ballina Tennis Centre begins today about 8am and runs through to about 9.30pm.
Spectators are welcome and entry to the tournament is free.


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