Sport

'Little Rafa' serves up love

Nine-year-old tennis star Ralph Armstrong, at Sawtell courts.
Nine-year-old tennis star Ralph Armstrong, at Sawtell courts. Trevor Veale

HE'S a pint-sized version of his hero, displaying a killer forehand, quickness and a love for clay courts.

It's no exaggeration that Ralph Armstrong is already starting to show the potential to be the Coffs Coast's own Rafael Nadal.

Nicknamed 'Little Rafa' after his love of the Spanish tennis superstar, the youngster recently took out the Under-10 division of the Sawtell Clay Court Championships.

Ralph's mother Maria Armstrong can't believe how quickly her son's tennis skills have developed.

"Ralph loves his tennis, he is always excited to play and will sit for hours watching his hero, Rafael Nadal, on TV," Armstrong said.

"He practises with his brother Nathan and has to have all the same equipment as Nadal.

"I was always worried that he would have trouble getting the ball over the net because he is so short, but he plays so well."

The Grade 4 student at Mary Help of Christians Primary School was a standout performer in his division at the clay court championships and said the win was one of his best.

"The competition was really hard and all the players were really good," Ralph said.

"I was happy to win because of how tough it was."

Training 10 hours a week at the Sawtell Tennis Club under head coach Eli Bayliss, Armstrong is aspiring to one day play like his idol.

"I love how he (Nadal) plays the game and that is how I try to play," he said. "I like Nadal's character and his bright clothes and he always has fun.

"Hopefully one day I can play at all the big competitions like Nadal and maybe even win one."

Despite his young age Armstrong may reach his goal of playing on Paris's famous clay courts sooner rather than later.

"Ralph has qualified for the Australian finals of a competition called Once Upon A Time in Tennis and the winner of gets to play in Paris," Maria Armstrong said.

"He will have to play in Cairns later this year against some of the best players in his age group.

"He is only young so as long as he has fun that is all that matters."

While 'Little Rafa' is finding success on the court, Ralph is just enjoying playing the game he loves. "I always look forward to the next time I can play," he said.

"Tennis is all about fun and making new friends and that is why I love it."

Topics:  sawtell tennis



A hit and miss with rain forecasts this week

It may be a while before we see rain like this.

Rain may be on the agenda for the Northern Rivers today

Dog owners warned Parvovirus on the increase

Dog owners are warned of an outbreak of Parvovirus near Grafton.

Vets are enouraging people to get their dogs vaccinated

Photographer focuses lens on women of Byron

Photographer Saskia Koerner loves our surfing women at Byron Bay.

Mix of salty water, pumping waves and a woman's form is magic recipe

Local Partners

Tensions high at pointy end of MKR's round two

WHEN an ex-vegan pacifist says "I think people that score strategically need a kick in the shins”, the MKR gloves are off.

Jungle Jay sent packing from I'm a Celebrity

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Here! contestant Jay Laga'aia with Keira.

BIG friendly giant Jay Laga'aia has been eliminated from I'm A Celeb

Carson Kressley brings 'camp' to I'm a Celebrity jungle

"I am not all Park Avenue and daffodils” ... Carson Kressley.

Meet the "campest” campmate to star on I'm a Celebrity.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi mystery already solved

FILE- This undated file photo provided by Disney shows Daisey Ridley as Rey, left, and John Boyega as Finn, in a scene from the film, \"Star Wars: The Force Awakens.\" Hasbro said it is changing its Star Wars Monopoly set after an 8-year-old girl became upset that Rey, the movie's female heroine, was not included as a figure along with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. (Disney/Lucasfilm via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

A key mystery surrounding the title of episode eight has been solved

Kids' game "full of f**king paedophiles" according to dad

A mortified dad has expressed serious concerns over an online game

Lisa Marie Presley's ex caught with child pics: court

Lisa Marie Presley, at right, and her husband, Michael Lockwood back in 2010. FILE

Lisa Marie, 49, claimed she was left “sick to her stomach”

Robert Irwin introduces Jimmy Fallon to wild guests

Robert Irwin introduces Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon to a cuddly sloth.

ROBERT Irwin continues Steve's legacy.

Proposed $21 million airpark in holding pattern

A front view of the proposed new aviation museum at Evans Head.

Late businessman's dream on hold ... for now

Clarence River island paradise selling for $5M

Former Ballina councillor Margaret Howes is selling her island getaway.

GALLERY: Tropical getaway with beaches and airstrip put on market.

Bidding could start at $1.4M for sought after property

Farrell McCrohon's Jojo Newby rides on a property recently listed at Buccarumbi

One of largest rural properties on market to go under hammer today

What $11.9m can get you on Coast's most exclusive street

29-31 Wyuna Drive Noosaville Qld 4566

This is what a cool $11.9m can get you

How a first home buyer built house with no deposit

NEARLY THERE: Construction on the first house to home orphans at Umoja began in January.



Photo Contributed

His home will be completed later this year.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!