Youngsters eye berth at John Newcombe Tennis Academy in Texas

ON THE HOP: McDonald College's Phoenix Baker powers back a forehand at the Albury Grasscourts. Pictures: MARK JESSER

ON THE HOP: McDonald College's Phoenix Baker powers back a forehand at the Albury Grasscourts. Pictures: MARK JESSER

OUTSTANDING tennis won’t be the only part of the game rewarded during the School Teams Challenge at Albury Grasscourts this week.

TEAM SPIRIT: Barker College's Oliver Welch, 16, Clint Newcombe, Jamie Hilton 15, Charlie Williams 16, Corey Kavanagh, 16, and Steve Thomlinson.

TEAM SPIRIT: Barker College's Oliver Welch, 16, Clint Newcombe, Jamie Hilton 15, Charlie Williams 16, Corey Kavanagh, 16, and Steve Thomlinson.

Officials have introduced a sportsmanship award with a player from the boys and girls teams winning their school a month’s scholarship at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in Texas.

The scholarship is the brainchild of Newcombe’s son, Clint, who is one of Barker College’s coaches.

“After being to this tournament for six or seven years, I went to the ranch and told them I thought it would be a really good thing to be involved with,” Clint said.

“They loved the idea of how this all runs.

“Every kid here can play but this is about how we feel tennis should be played with the proper respect to your opponents, yourself and the game in general.

“The ranch is over the moon to be involved.

“Dad (John) was thrilled because sportsmanship is such an important part of the game.”

Fifty per cent of the vote will come from the coaches of schools with tournament co-ordinator and referee John Ferguson also having an input in deciding the winners.

The ranch, which is 30 minutes from San Antonio, will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

“As the majority owner of the ranch, I’m very proud of what we have achieved,” John Newcombe said.

“The boys and girls selected for this trip will have the experience of a lifetime.

“Our academy coaching staff are already waiting for them, I just hope they are very fit when they arrive because team work and hard work are our mottos.”

Ferguson believes the scholarships will add another dimension to the tournament which started in 2003.

“I can see it will add to the already strong reputation of the schools teams challenge,” he said.

Meriden has dominated the girls competition by winning six of the past seven years while Maribyrnong boasts three of the past four boys titles.

Finals are scheduled for Wednesday.