TENNIS: With the tennis world's attention turning to Melbourne for the start of the Australian Open, two Melbourne-based coaches have packed up their rackets and moved to Rockhampton.
Andrew Crawford and Helen Papaevagelou are the new coaches in town, having accepted the head coach and centre management roles with Tennis Rockhampton at the Rockhampton Regional Tennis Centre.
Tennis Rockhampton chairperson Paul Donovan said he was thrilled to have Crawford and Papaevagelou on board with the coaching experience they brought.
"Both Andrew and Helen are qualified coaches having plenty of experience with junior players including some of the recognised elite athletes," Donovan said.
The decision of former centre manager and long time local tennis coach Bevan Mulholland to relocate to the Sunshine Coast resulted in a nationwide search to find a replacement.
Knowing Rockhampton as the birth place of arguably the world's greatest tennis player, Rod Laver and that the tennis centre is one of the largest in the country Crawford and Papaevagelou said they were keen to evaluate the opportunity.
"Rockhampton has a terrific complex here with 24 courts on the banks of the river in this beautiful parkland setting. It's a great place to play tennis," Papaevagelou said.
"We're both country people originally and working in Miami and Melbourne has been really great but to be able to move out to more of a country town and have such a great facility like this is what we've been waiting for.
"It is quite hard to get into big clubs like this, to run them, so we're just really excited about moving back and being a part of the community more rather than just being in a big city and one of the numbers."
Papaevagelou, who is the former director of operations at the Kooyong International Tennis Academy has been coaching for more than 10 years, and has international experience both coaching and playing.
"I started when I was 17 and I ran all the programs for tennis SA, as I grew up in South Australia," she said.
"I love playing tennis and I love being with little kids so it was just a perfect transition going from playing tennis to coaching and I was lucky enough when I was 19 to gain a scholarship to America to play for an academy called Cliff Drysdale tennis and that's where I started coaching a lot more and met Andrew and got married.
"We were there for four years together coaching for a lot of resort style clubs but it just got time to move back to Australia."
Papaevagelou and Crawford will be offering the Hot Shots program for kids, along with hosting Tennis in Schools clinics throughout Rockhampton, Yeppoon and the area.
"We're going to be offering to go into schools and that's going to be for free," Papaevagelou said.
"We're not going to charge for it so we're going to be doing a lot of community tennis but we're also offering cardio tennis, adult coaching and hopefully we're going to be able to take kids away to tournaments as well and my personal favourite, coaching the little three year olds and four year olds, so a bit of everything.
"We're just really excited to be here and to start building up a program and get tennis out there in Rockhampton because I know it's probably not one of the bigger sports in Rockhampton compared to sports like rugby league but hopefully we can get a lot more kids and even adults, just people on the courts and playing tennis."
Tennis Rockhampton is holding an Open Court afternoon on Monday January 28 where free coaching and games will be offered as well as information about coaching and fixtures.
The Rockhampton Regional Tennis Centre is located in Victoria Park opposite the showgrounds and is open every day.
The Open Court is from 4.30pm.