Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

International tennis stars to play in Benalla

Sunday's Australia Day celebrations will have an international twist with American and Australian tennis champions competing in Benalla.

January 24, 2014 4:17am

Ausrapid office manager Kellie Keen and tennis star Kelly Wren.

Australia Day celebrations will have a twist this year when international tennis stars descend on Benalla Lawn Tennis Club.

The local tennis club will host an international match between Australia and the United States with some of the world’s best players with an intellectual disability.

Australian world champions Kelly Wren and Sharon Morse will be front and centre of the match, and all players will compete in the singles and doubles at the Australian Championships in Melbourne prior to travelling to Benalla.

Wren said she was excited to travel to Benalla for the inaugural tournament.

‘‘I’m excited firstly about playing on grass, and most importantly to play USA,’’ Wren said.

‘‘I think mainstream sport gives people with an intellectual disability an open mind, knowing it gives doors wide open for other opportunities to play the sport that they enjoy playing.’’

Wren has not lost a match in her classification for 15 years and has won both the singles and doubles at the Australian Tennis Championships since 1998 (singles) and 2000 (doubles).

In 2011 Wren was awarded the Tennis Australia most outstanding athlete with a disability at the gala Newcombe Medal, Australian Tennis Awards, and has been a finalist on three other occasions. She has also represented Australia in basketball.

Benalla Lawn Tennis Club president David O’Donohue said the event was a wonderful opportunity for the community to watch great tennis, and meet the players and their families.

‘‘Australia Day reminds us of what makes Australia special and how our different cultures, sport, art and food come together to make Australia one of the best places to live,’’ O’Donohue said.

‘‘The club is enthusiastic about providing an opportunity for locals to come together with our international visitors to celebrate what is great about Australia and living in Benalla.’’

The match will be held on Sunday at 3.30pm, with a barbecue and live music from Benalla’s Tony Williams.

Entry is free, with a gold coin donation for the barbecue and drinks available at bar prices.

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