District children got to hold the Australian Open trophies on Wednesday at Rich River Tennis Club.By Luke McManus
Rich River Tennis Club has just been blitzed.
As part of Tennis Australia’s nation-wide participation drive, the AO Blitz, junior members of the RRTC were treated to a special visit from two revered figures of Australian tennis on Wednesday.
The Australian Open trophies, awarded to the men’s and women’s singles champions each year, were passed around the room by Hot Shots program manager Patrick McInerney to the many delighted children who lined up for photo opportunities.
The trophies, worth about $80,000 apiece, proved a handful for many who struggled to lift the impressive silverware while posing with their special white cotton gloves.
‘‘Only the players who win the championship get to touch the trophies,’’ McInerney said.
McInerney, who will accompany the trophies during the Victorian leg of the AO Blitz, said the four-month long campaign aimed to inspire kids of all ages to play tennis and generate interest in the annual Australian Open championship.
‘‘Kids have loved the chance to see and hold the trophies, it’s a once and a lifetime opportunity for them,’’ he said.
‘‘The good thing about the AO Blitz is it makes the connection.
‘‘Rather than just watching it on television and going ‘oh yeah, that looks nice’, they can watch it and go ‘I remember that trophy, I’ve seen it, I’ve held it, I’ve touched it’.
‘‘And it’s not just for the kids; parents and teachers have been involved. Everyone loves seeing the trophies so they definitely help.’’
The tour, which will end in January, also provides juniors the chance to take part in clinics and challenges with the hope of winning prizes, including tickets to the Open, and have an official player represent their town, school or tennis club.
The blitz’s next stop will be Traralgon on Sunday.
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