Big bucks promised
CENTRAL Queensland schoolkids like these three might not know it yet, but their tennis footprint in the region is set to get a whole lot bigger in the coming years.
Samantha Stosur may be the name on every tennis player's lips after the Queenslander became the first Australian woman in 31 years to win a grand slam tournament.
But it may soon be Xstrata Coal they're preaching, and not Slammin' Sam.
On the cards is an additional $150,000 funding boost by Xstrata to regional tennis clubs throughout Queensland, on top of a previous grant in 2010.
Springsure, Rolleston, Tieri, Capella and Middlemount are just a few of the towns to benefit from the funding assistance, which will continue each year until 2013.
Already the grants are working their magic with a 23% increase in tennis membership in regional communities.
Tennis Queensland CEO Cameron Pearson said without the money, clubs wouldn't be anywhere near the standards required for such an uptake in numbers.
"We try to help out where we can, but without these funds most clubs wouldn't have access to a lot of what they have now," he said.
"They've got a new coach in the area and that provides the players with a development pathway.
"It gives them a real option in the sport."
Pearson said it was not only the juniors whose interests they were looking after, but also those of the young at heart.
"It's about getting people back into tennis and providing accessible and enjoyable tennis for the towns," Pearson said.
"It gives the clubs a help up so they can be sustainable into the future."
With fallout from Stosur's grand slam achievement still only days old, it's Pearson's hope that the tennis community could experience a sudden influx of new membership similar to that of bike clubs after Cadel Evans won the Tour De France earlier this year.
"It will certainly go a long way," Pearson said.
"We want to see as many kids as possible get involved.
"She (Stosur) is the sort of role model we need in our sport.
"She is a delightful lady who does a lot for tennis which not many people get the opportunity to see."