The Country All-Stars team, which features Shepparton's Luke Dixon, is set to debut this weekend in Tennis Victoria's Premier League.By Marc McGowan
Tennis Victoria country director Ken Barton says the inaugural Country All-Stars team will be out to prove tonight and beyond its players are just as capable as their metropolitan counterparts.
The All-Stars make their Premier League debut tonight against the might of Kooyong at Royal South Yarra before backing up against MCC at Doveton on Sunday.
Shepparton’s Luke Dixon is part of the 15-man All-Stars squad, but is not playing tonight or on Sunday.
‘‘Traditionally there’s a bit of, ‘Are country players as good as metropolitan players?’,’’ Barton said. ‘‘It will say a lot if this team is competitive and it really does indicate the importance of producing champions from country areas.
‘‘Australia has a strong history of that occurring and sometimes it’s tough for country guys to get the opportunity and feel as if they’re good enough.’’
Barton said the sole criterion for the All-Stars was a minimum of 50 per cent of the team had to be from the country.
‘‘That was put in there to ensure the team was competitive, because there was some concern,’’ he said.
‘‘But what’s happened is the response has been so strong, in terms of players originally from the country, that the (50 per cent) requirement is not as significant as what it was first thought to be.
‘‘The team, on paper, looks very competitive and it will be interesting to see how it does perform.’’
Dixon’s teammates are Australian Junior Davis Cup player Harry Bourchier, Andrew Gregory, Ryan Palfrey, Matt Hicks, Jayde Culph, Mark Shanahan, Curt Garwood, Aiden Fitzgerald, Mitchell Allman, Adam Fleming, Paul Rowbottom, Matt Maloney, Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Robinson.
Bendigo-based Fleming is the team captain.
Barton said Bendigo Tennis Association executive officer Leon Retallick and Tennis Victoria tennis operations manager Nick Hinneberg had played leading roles in the All-Stars’ inception.
‘‘This is a great opportunity where country kids can see that, without going to the city, they have the opportunity to compete in these competitions,’’ he said. ‘‘Traditionally players would have had to secure a spot at a metropolitan-based club, so that’s exciting in that it’s the best country players.’’
The Country All-Stars will compete against Grace Park, MCC, Royal South Yarra, Kooyong Lawn TC, Dingley TC and Waverley.
There are seven rounds before the semi-final and final are held on April 12 and 14, respectively.
A Shepparton bus service that takes nightclub patrons home safely is celebrating its fifth anniversary of operation this weekend.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Moama's Shirley Durrant has been wowing district pudding eaters for the past 23 years with her Christmas delights.
On Friday Rochester’s St Joseph’s Primary School opened a time capsule which was buried in the 1980s.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Lisa Milligan has started a new dog grooming business in Heathcote to help fund her Wild ABout Wildlife centre in Kilmore.
A group of volunteers have worked to revitalise the Cobram motorcross track to improve safety and attract new members to the club.
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria and Country Fire Authority will be performing planned burns in Goomalibee on Monday.
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