Mitchell a pro on centre court
Is there a spot free in the Australian Open?
Mitchell Harper may be only 12 years old, but he played like a pro last week to earn his spot on centre court at the Brisbane International.
The Rockhampton boy slammed his way through the UQ Head Age Tennis Championships last week and took out the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles in his division against nearly 40 other competitors.
Harper’s coach, Robert Beak, said the triple win was no surprise to him.
“To be honest it wasn’t a surprise. He played in a Queensland team last year, he is number one seed for singles and doubles and, even though the competition was very strong, I expected him to do that well,” Beak said yesterday.
“He is a very tough competitor. He is very tough mentally, is strong from the back of court and doesn’t make any loose shots or many unforced errors.”
After the championships Harper was then asked to “hit up” on centre court at the Brisbane International, was awarded the Queensland Future Champion and, what’s more, sat in Andy Roddick’s box.
“It would have been a big thrill for him to do that. He just loves tennis and everything about it – he is a big tennis nut,” Beak said.
“But the whole thing was a part of Tennis Queensland’s way to get the up-and-coming potential players used to the court, so it doesn’t intimidate them in the future.”
Despite starting the 2010 year in top form, Harper also capped off 2009 in the same tune when he represented the Queensland team in the Australian under-12 championships, the Bruce Cup.
“He had a brilliant 2009 year and made the Queensland team that won the Bruce Cup – the team was really very hard to make as they only pick seven in Queensland,” he said.
“Mitchell has been with me for five years and has always shown potential. He has a good head on his shoulders and is very mature, which makes for a very good thinker.”
The young player has now accepted a scholarship with the National Academy in Brisbane, which will give funding and training sessions with top coaches.
“The funding will go away for tournaments, travel and coaches, and hopefully he will put time aside for them and go down and train with the state coaches.
“Tennis is all he wants to do; he wants to go as far as he can with the sport – even if he doesn’t make it as a player.
“He is going to give tennis his best shot then after that he wants to do coaching.”