© Ella Ling

Miami 2012 - Azarenka 3

Melbourne diary - juniors aiming high

   

The Australian Open means many things to many people; the happy slam to the players and the fans, a bit of winter sunshine to those coming from Europe for the tournament and the start of the year for everyone concerned in tennis. But to the press covering the junior tournament in Melbourne, it’s also a time to examine the new batch of players who may one day make it big.

Not only are they excellent prospects by the time they get to grand slam level, but they are also absolutely hilarious when it comes to filling in the questionnaire that eventually leads to their profile in the annual junior circuit media guide.

Now along with the usual information about date of birth, height and which hand they use the racket, they are asked to give a little bit of background about themselves, in terms of their likes and dislikes and their ambitions for the future. This is where the hilarity often comes in.

Many list sleeping and eating as a hobby – as opposed to a necessity – while others write things like “girls” and some, the more unimaginative of them, decided that their main hobby was “tennis”. But what’s always amusing is their ambition and the 2013 list is no different.

A few years ago, one player listed getting to world No 3 as his aim in life, a little specific and exact compared to most. This year, one player, Jakub Oravec, has listed “to continue playing” as his goal in tennis. Many go right for the top in suggesting they want to win a grand slam or become world No 1 but one player this year has put to win all grand slams and be No 1. Nothing like aiming high.

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Talking of grunting, no one’s been talking about it. I mentioned yesterday that Channel 7, the host broadcaster here, has a gruntometer, which they pull out every now and again. But compared to last year, it’s been deadly quiet. Not on the court –the likes of Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are still making a racket, joined by Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia this year – but off the court, where there has barely been a single word written about it. The WTA says fans are telling them they don’t like it and as a result they moved to start educating youngsters about cutting down on grunting but it strikes me more and more that this is really a media issue. Every now and again, the media suggest it’s cheating or just annoying and loads of hot air is expanded in discussing it. It’s just funny why it was a big issue last year and not this. It hasn’t gone away.