New Year Open draws young guns
SUFFOLK Park tennis player Louis Clark is the No 2 seed for the Ballina New Year Open tournament next week.
Clark won the Queensland under-18 state championship earlier this year and will be one of 54 players in the open men's draw.
Numbers are down this year with about 180 expected to turn out for the five-day tournament.
"The Brisbane International starts a bit earlier this year and there are a few other things on,” tournament director Brandon Rowe said.
"There is also a new tournament in Sydney that might have taken away some of our travelling players.”
Top seed Oliver Casey is ranked 72 in Australia while Jack Maddocks is back after reaching the semi-finals of the 2016 event.
He has been in the United States on a college scholarship and will also play doubles with Casey.
Mullumbimby's Stephen Gort made it as far as the quarter-finals before he was beaten by eventual winner Brendan Moore who will not play next week.
Brad Clews was runner-up the past two years and has also not entered the tournament.
"There has been a bit of a changing of the guard this year in the open men's and a lot of young blokes coming through now,” Rowe said.
"It's a shame for Brad Clews because looking at the field he would have been a really good chance of winning it.
"I've told Stephen Gort it could be his year and Luke Edwards is another who is probably in with a good chance.
"Chris O'Mara is 49 this year but he's also done well in the past.”
Meanwhile, the open women's competition will see plenty of top players from around the North Coast and Queensland.
Top seed Megan Smith is coming from Toowoomba while Grafton's Georgia Allen is the No 6 seed.
The AMT events start Tuesday with matches to be played at Alstonville and Ballina Tennis Club.
The tournament will also feature a stack of junior players at the event with rankings points on offer.
"The 12-14 boys division is usually the most popular but we're a bit down on numbers there too,” Rowe said.
"We've added the extra day this year as a bit of a buffer with the weather but we'll try and finish it in four days.”
For more information about the tournament visit www.ballinatennis.com.au