Young stars in Ballarat for inaugural AMT tennis event

AUSTRALIAN number 14 Azra Hadzic does not care who her opponents will be in the inaugural Ballarat Open Gold Australian Money Tournament, which starts today at the Ballarat Regional Tennis Centre.

She intends to play her own game.

As number two seed in the tournament, Hadzic won’t hit the court until tomorrow but says the outcome of today’s matches won’t affect her preparation.

“I don’t care who else is playing – I just want to go out and do my best and not think about anything else,” Hadzic said.

“I might have a sneak peak at the draw though and who is playing before I head down.”

The Tennis Australia gold rated tournament begins with qualifying rounds ahead of the main draw, which kicks off tomorrow. 

Hadzic and the other top eight seeds will enter the competition in the second round of the main draw. Seeds nine to 16 will come up against today’s eight successful qualifiers in round one. 

Hadzic’s main threat, number one seed Viktorija Rajicic, ranked 13 in Australia, is a familiar opponent having played at the same events for years. 

“We’re pretty even, so if we get to play it should be a good match,” Hadzic says. The 18-year-old finished playing at a junior level aged just 15.

In the past year, she has travelled Australia on the professional circuit, competing in more than five tournaments in the past month, including the Australian Open playoffs. 

With the busy schedule of the Ballarat Open Gold AMT, Hadzic said her fitness would be an advantage. 

“I’d probably rather play a few games in a day – I’m really fit so it doesn’t bother me,” she said. “My fitness is my strength; I don’t get tired easily.I like a long grinder for a match.” 

On court, Hadzic has been working on her overall game and not concentrating on one single aspect. 

“There’s nothing specific I try to do. I just concentrate on doing what I’ve been training, looking at myself not anyone around me,” she said.

In the men’s singles, Sam Groth, who was clocked as the world’s fastest serve with a record 263kmh, is the number one seed.

James Lemke is the second seed, and has a Tennis Australia ranking of 25. 

Ballarat’s hope is fourth seed Zoe Hives, who will play her first match in the second round at 1pm tomorrow.

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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