Brotherly love guides the way
TENNIS: He is not yet old enough to to pick up a racquet, but Hunter Vickery will play a telling role next week.
The one-year-old brother of Rockhampton tennis ace Lachlan Vickery is a calming influence on the hot-headed youngster.
Lachlan, representing himself and the region, is off to the Australasian Championships in Melbourne.
Despite only being 12, Vickery knows his temper can sometimes get the better of him, Hunter though, is integral to his game plan.
"I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, it helps. I also put my towel over my head and just think of my little brother," the 12-year-old said.
"Hunter is only one and really cute. He just makes me feel really happy. I usually go to the fence when I am playing and it helps to see him.
"I have to make sure I don't get angry and keep calm. Just stay focused on why I am there."
Since moving from Emerald mid-year, Vickery's arsenal of attacking strokes has grown. His best, his serve.
"My serve is good, I think it's my best shot. My ground strokes are consistent which is good," he said.
"Smashes are my favourite though, I love belting away the easy ones which feels great.
"Rockhampton has a lot more people to hit with and at a better standard. So coming here has raised my game."
Going up against the best in the country, plus New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan to name a few would be daunting to most.
"I have played the number one in Australia before and beaten him, only once though," he said.
"It feels good knowing I am one of the best players in the country. I do want to be the best but it is a long way to go."
The home of the Australian Open, Melbourne Park and Rod Laver Arena will give the lucky players a taste of the professional circuit.
Every match is recorded and statistics taken and they play a minimum of eight matches to ensure the travelling is worthwhile.
Yeppoon's Kyle Johnston will contest with the top 64 in the under-16s division.
Key to his success, music just prior to stepping on court.
"Apart from ensuring I stay hydrated, I always listen to music just before I play," he said.
"Either to cool nerves or pump myself up. My taste varies on that but I'm really liking Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd at the moment.
"I'm extremely excited. I've never been to a tournament this size or even Melbourne itself.
"I have been training hard and I feel like I'm hitting the ball well. It will be a great experience.
"At the same time we play, the Australian Open wildcards are on, so we will get to see the likes of James Duckworth and Ben Mitchell play. It will be really cool."
Rockhampton coach and father of Lachlan, Glenn Vickery said it was a momentous achievement for both boys.
"For two guys from regional Queensland, it is just huge," he said.
"They have done a fantastic job to go this far and they are in with a shot.
"They might not have played at this level very often but they are both really talented players.
"It is a massive experience for them, especially playing at Rod Laver. Just enormous."