Sunbury’s Jin Woodman has been mixing it with the best wheelchair tennis players in the world at the Melbourne Wheelchair Tennis Open.
The nine-year-old was one of the youngest players to compete in the tournament, which was used by the world’s best players as a warm-up to the Australian Open.
The tournament was Woodman’s second, having made his debut at the national titles last year.
Woodman said it was exciting to have the opportunity to be around the best players in the world at his home court of Hume Tennis and Community Centre in Craigieburn.
He had a tough first-up match in the boys’ section, losing to Japanese No.1 Takumi Ouchiyama. He then had the opportunity to play some consolidation games and doubles.
Woodman was at least five or six years younger than most of his opposition.
“It was good,” he said. “We had the Japanese players coming to Australia.”
The tournament came two and half years after Woodman took up the sport after seeing it at a come-and-try day.
His father, Steve, said he had taken an instant liking to the sport and trained every Saturday.
He said playing in the Melbourne Wheelchair Tennis Open instead of attending as a spectator had been really exciting for his son.
“We went to a disability sport rec event and they showed us about tennis,” Steve said.
“He then started at Hume, which is really handy and they’re a good bunch of people.
“There’s six or seven players in wheelchairs. He’s the youngest, but they’re really good socially.”
Woodman’s experience at the Melbourne Wheelchair Tennis Open follows his appearance in the national championships last year, in which he played the number one junior Australian player.
Overall, he finished runners-up in the junior consol singles final.
Woodman also spent time in Canberra at a national camp run by Tennis Australia.
Steve said both tournaments and the camp had been a big learning curve for his son.
Woodman, who uses a wheelchair because of a genetic condition that affects his nerves, said his aim was to compete at the Australian Open and Olympics.
“My favourites are Dylan [Alcott] and Heath [Davidson],” he said . “I took photos with them and made it my wallpaper.”
It was through Alcott’s charity that Woodman received his tennis chair.
Woodman said that he enjoyed the differences between singles and doubles, but singles was his favourite.