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Junior Australian Open on Gattuso's mind

Shepparton Lawn Tennis Club's Nick Gattuso is aiming to earn a place in next year's junior Australian Open.

OLIVER CAFFREY June 3, 2014 3:05am

A place in the junior Australian Open draw is Nick Gattuso’s aim for next season.

The promising Shepparton Lawn Tennis Club player will venture to Fiji this month to gain momentum towards that goal.

He will travel with Shepparton Lawn coach Jamie Haynes and regular doubles partner Bendigo’s Zac Lethlean for two International Tennis Federation tournaments.

It will be the first time Gattuso, 16, has played outside Australia.

Gattuso said he had been eagerly anticipating the trip and was looking forward to testing himself against some quality opponents.

‘‘I set a goal after the Australian Open, I sat down with Jamie (Haynes) and we decided this is where we want to go, it’s going to be tough, but I think I can get into the junior draw next year,’’ Gattuso said.

‘‘I’m really excited, I’ve been counting down for the past month to get across to Fiji and start playing some big matches.’’

After a busy summer season, there has been no let up since, with Gattuso travelling to Melbourne regularly and trying to stay match-fit.

Gattuso was a key member of Shepparton Bears’ run into the Goulburn Murray Premier One grand final and played well in major tournaments at Cobram and Shepparton.

‘‘There’s no off-season as such, I play in a competition in Melbourne every Saturday and going to Bendigo, I know a few people across there, but it’s all about keeping my touch,’’ Gattuso said.

While his first overseas trip might have seemed slightly daunting, Gattuso will be well supported.

Haynes has played a huge role in Gattuso’s rapid development and Lethlean is a close friend.

‘‘Jamie is the one to thank for everything in my game, I’d be nowhere near where I am now without Jamie, he has been with me from the start and has been great for my development,’’ Gattuso said.

‘‘And Zac is one of my best mates, I’ve known him for three or four years now, I stay at his place when I go to Bendigo and we spend plenty of time hitting together.’’

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