Former Rocky junior tennis star Mitch scores Open berth
FORMER Rockhampton junior tennis star, Mitch Harper has a ticket to the Australian Open.
Now based in Brisbane, Harper earned his place in the Australian Open boys' singles tournament after qualifying for the AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International in Victoria, which started on Saturday.
Competing against players two years his senior, the 16-year-old defeated fellow Aussie Pearse Dolan, who retired hurt while trailing 5-1 in the first set, before coming from a set down to beat Italian Mirko Cutuli 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.
He progressed through to the main draw with a 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 win of Japan's Kennosuke Nouchi.
Harper lost 6-4, 6-3 to World junior No.9 Michael Mmoh of the USA in the first round of the main, but his performance was enough to earn a wildcard berth in the Australian Open boys draw.
He'll head to Melbourne Park for the start of competition on Saturday.
Harper's former coach, Robert Beak, said his wildcard entry was a deserved reward for the youngster after the year he's had.
"He had a really good 2013, especially the back end of 2013 - he's coming along really well," Beak said.
"He's a real hard worker, Mitch. He's not the biggest guy going around but he's always been a good hard worker, and he's got a really good head on his shoulders."
Harper was a finalist at the New South Wales Junior International in October, days after winning the Gosford Junior International.
Rockhampton's Olivia Tjandramulia makes her senior debut today in the women's doubles at the Australian Open.
Partnering Gold Coast teen Naiktha Barnes, Tjandramulia takes on the 14th seeds Julia Goerges and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.