MARGARET COURT CUP: For James, grass is a great leveller

JAMES Palmer has spent most of the past year honing his tennis game on Europe’s Challenger circuit but he knows that will count for little on the grass at Albury.

The Sydneysider, 18, will play in that open division at the Margaret Court Cup — an Australian money tournament carrying significant ranking points.

Palmer spent the year after his HSC in Barcelona eating, sleeping and living tennis — competing in 25 events.

He now has to decide whether to try his luck again or head to further study — a law degree at Sydney University the most likely option.

“I went OK but I was away from home, in a country where I didn’t speak the language, hadn’t experienced the culture — so that was pretty tough,” Palmer said yesterday.

“After a while, you get a handle on the language and rely on the people around you to translate.

“I won a lot of matches, just didn’t get the ATP points I needed.

“The question now for me is whether I go back and try again or whether I pursue my education.”

Palmer doesn’t see his height of 2 metres as a huge advantage.

“Height makes it a lot easier to serve but it has its disadvantages, too,” he said.

“It is harder to move around, get down to lower balls.

“It is something have been working on and continually work on.”

Palmer said Australian players were naturally talented and the Border players were tough to beat on grass.

“You see a lot of talented players overseas and you get to understand what you have to do,” he said.

“When it comes down to it, tennis is about who can keep the ball in the court the longest and, as much as flashy shots are entertaining, sometimes it’s just the ability to put every ball back in the court that matters.

“I give myself a chance here this week but there are some very talented players in the draw.

“While Europe has a lot of heavily trained players, here it’s natural talent.

“Some of the local players who have grown up playing on these grass courts are incredibly hard to beat.”

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