AT present it’s either fourth-seeded Andy Murray or Maria Sharapova but a big rally could mean Warrnambool is represented by either top seeds Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams in next month’s Australian Open.
That’s the prospect for Warrnambool after strong participation by locals in the AO Blitz competition has the city presently sitting fourth, the highest-ranked Victorian centre, in the national online interactive competition.
Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh is encouraging local people to take part and maintain Warrnambool’s momentum in the competition that offers international promotional opportunities for the city.
The competition invites individuals, schools and clubs to provide online evidence they have taken part in fun tennis challenges to earn points for their home town.
The town with the most points will be represented by the top seed, flipping a coin to decide whether it will be the men’s or women’s top seed.
In total, 256 towns will be represented through the competition by a male or female player at the Open.
Giant information screens around the Australian Open precinct in Melbourne and scheduling signage will feature players’ names, nationality and the Australian town they are ‘playing for’.
The link between players and towns will also be included in the Australian Open’s television broadcast.
Cr Neoh said even if people did not take part in the fun tennis challenges, they should go to the website aoblitz.com.au to find out about the competition.
One of the local advocates for Warrnambool’s participation in the competition, Warrnambool Indoor Tennis Centre manager Rob Urquhart, said the city’s present fourth placing was a great effort in the competition that had about 700 towns taking part.
The big points tally by Warrnambool reflected the strong interest by locals in the sport and its good tennis facilities, Mr Urquhart said.
The city beefed up its points tally by running weekend “activation sites” this month where people could take part in the competition’s fun tennis activities, such as hitting a tennis ball at a target or ‘court hog’ that involves 12-member teams playing on the court at the same time.
The competition closes on December 31 and both Cr Neoh and Mr Urquhart are calling for a big effort by clubs and individuals to ensure Warrnambool’s name is in the spotlight at the grand slam event.