Draper drawcard for Ballina
THE Ballina New Year Open tennis tournament has been given a late boost with the addition of former champion, Mark Draper, the men’s singles draw.
The 38-year-old, who is the brother of hybrid sportsman, Scott, is currently part of the conditioning team piloting Justine Henin’s comeback to the pro-circuit.
Draper has been granted a release from his post at the Brisbane International where the Belgian Henin is preparing for her return tilt at the Australian Open.
Currently ranked 54 in Australia, Draper, who won the New Year Open in 2008 will be seeded No 1 and is sure to draw some interest to the tournament that he is expected to cruise through and win.
Tournament co-ordinator, John Whitty, is pleased with his coup and excited at the added prestige that comes with a big name.
“Mark is certainly one of the better names we have had to the tournament in a while,” Whitty said.
“He just adds that touch of class to the open singles draw.”
While Whitty has trumpeted the hopes of many of the local players, he expects the class of his drawcard to take him all the way.
“I would be most surprised if he was troubled by any of the guys in the draw; he is just a class player,” Whitty said.