Locals gathered at Benalla Lawn Tennis Club on Sunday to watch Australian and American tennis stars battle it out.MONIQUE FREER January 29, 2014 4:11am
More than 80 people gathered at Benalla Lawn Tennis Club on Sunday to watch international tennis stars battle it out.
The local tennis club hosted the match between Australia and the United States, featuring some of the world’s best players with an intellectual disability.
Ausrapid chief executive Robyn Smith said players and spectators thoroughly enjoyed the event.
‘‘It was pleasing the way Benalla families hosted the event and were so pleased to billet the players and families, and the way that Benalla — particularly the tennis community — embraced it,’’ she said.
‘‘The players thoroughly enjoyed it; it really was a celebration of tennis.’’
Australia’s Kelly Wren defeated the US’ Brittany Tagliareni 8-1, while Mitchell James (Aus) defeated Jon Fried (US) 8-2.
In the other singles games Zvi Schweitzer (Aus) defeated Ben Hadden (US) 8-3 and Sharon Morse (Aus) defeated Katherine Richards (US) 8-0.
The Australian team made it a clean sweep when it took out the mixed doubles later that afternoon.
‘‘A few of the players hadn’t played on grass ever so it was such a different bounce, but everyone seemed to be very, very happy and we did a lot of exchanging of gifts and words (Sunday) night which was quite emotional,’’ Smith said.
The club hosted an Australia Day barbecue for players, guests and spectators after the match, complete with pavlova, lamingtons and a spectacular Australia-shaped cake made by local Kellie Keen.
The US head of delegation Barry Holman thanked the Ausrapid staff, Benalla host families and Benalla Lawn Tennis Club and said the individuals involved made the team feel at home.
‘‘It truly was a celebration of tennis, and Benalla shone,’’ Smith said.
Smith said she hoped to be able to organise a similar event in the future.
‘‘It was just a great thing that Benalla did and I feel really positive about the way they carried themselves and hopefully it’ll make a difference in the future.’’
All players competed in the singles and doubles at the Australian Championships in Melbourne prior to travelling to Benalla.
The players and their families were billeted by local families, and attended Benalla’s Australia Day celebrations on Sunday before the match.
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Benalla streets have come alive with street art. The large painted images adorn some of the town's buildings, creating a spectacular sight.
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