FORGOTTEN shoes earlier in the tournament failed to halt Rameez Junaid.
He was impressed to get help – a quick drive to the shops and an in-store discount to alleviate his plight – in Ballarat.
The 31-year-old encouraged more players to get out of Melbourne and take their games to regional hubs, like Ballarat, not just for community spirit but for quality competition.
“This is my first time to Ballarat playing and it is great to see tennis growing. We’ve got a Grand Slam (in this state) and more people should be getting out there playing,” the Melbourne-based Junaid said.
“Roger Federer is from a small town in Switzerland and I don’t see why the next Federer could not come from a town like Ballarat, too.
“I drove here every day – it’s not that far from Melbourne and it’s been great.”
A title win in the Ballarat Open Gold Australian Money Tournament’s men’s singles has launched Junaid’s summer.
Like women’s champion Su-Wei Hsieh, Junaid plans to take his game to the Australian Open via the Brisbane International but as a doubles specialist.
Ballarat was his platform to get ready.
“It’s been great to get a few matches in singles and doubles and really focus on my serves and returns,” Junaid said.
“The schedule is so tight it’s great for fitness to be playing back-to-back matches each day.”
Junaid, the number three seed, defeated the tournament’s number four seed Daniel Byrnes, 6-4 6-4, having knocked out number two seed Ryan Agar 7-6 (5) 6-2 in the semis.
He is hoping now to be accepted in doubles in Brisbane and Melbourne.