Back in December I wrote about how my daughters tennis pennant team won a once in a lifetime trip to the Australian Open. Well we are now back from this trip and what an amazing one it was!
It all started early on Friday 20 January when we met the rest of the tennis team and one of their parents at Perth airport. You just needed to look and listen to the kids (and to be honest the parents as well) to see just how excited they all were. This tennis team has played and trained together for the last few years and most of them have dreams to become professional tennis players themselves. Heading over to the first tennis grand slam of the year and watching their favourite tennis players train and play means the world to them.
As the plane took off and we headed in the direction of Melbourne, we all realised that we were actually on our way and couldn’t wait to get there. Fortunately the flight seemed to go quickly and before we knew it we were at Melbourne Airport.
A taxi ride to our hotel and quickly checking into our rooms, we then made our way to Melbourne Park. For those of you who have never been to the Australian Open before it is a massive venue, with lots of different entries and exits, consequently we got a bit lost and was late meeting our Tennis Australia representative. When we finally met him and got our passes we were off! We spent our first evening in Melbourne walking around Melbourne Park and soaking in the atmosphere. There was so much to see and do. With it being such an early start to the day back in Perth and such a big day planned for the Saturday we made it an early night.
Saturday morning bought a great deal of excitement to the kids. They dressed in the tennis clothes, including socks and shoes that were provided and waited in the hotel lobby for the Tennis Australia representative and the surprise he had waiting for them. They got to be driven to Melbourne Park in one of the official Kia Cars for the Australian Open! They were sitting in the same cars that some of the professional tennis players sit in to be driven to and from their hotel. The smiles and excitement on their faces was easy to see! Unfortunately this was only a treat for the kids and we had to find our way to Melbourne Park on the tram.
With the kids being in an official Kia Car and having official passes, they accessed Melbourne Park through the tennis players entrance. After some tours of back of house and media obligations they were then getting ready to play a short tennis match on Hisense Arena. Not only did they get to access the back of house areas where the tennis players go but they also got to play in front of a reasonable crowd on Hisense Arena. Sitting in the stands and being the proud parents taking lots of photos, we could all see the nerves and excitement on each of our childrens faces. As if this wasn’t enough to get them all buzzing they were then told that they would be the guard of honour for a Mens Legends Doubles on Hisense Arena and each of them would be tossing a coin for a match during the Day session.
My daughter was fortunate enough to be tossing the coin on Margaret Court Arena for the Round 3 match of Caroline Wozniacki and Johanna Konta. As if her day couldn’t get any better, she managed to get an autograph and photo with her favourite tennis player – Angelique Kerber after she had finished a training session.
On Sunday we all (including parents) got a full back of house tour. We all got to see where the tennis players enter the grounds and access facilities like concierge, travel arrangements, hair and beauty salon, restaurant, media rooms and for all of us adults, the tax department! On this tour the kids got to see so many of the tennis players walking the corridors and getting ready for their matches. This tour was unfortunately the last experience in our prize. We spent the rest of Sunday walking around the grounds of Melbourne Park watching tennis on the outside courts, practice courts and just soaking up the whole atmosphere of Melbourne Park.
I have always had a child who is obsessed with her tennis (tennis themed bedroom, tennis covered school books, tennis birthday and Christmas presents and just talks tennis, tennis, tennis) but after this amazing experience she is still buzzing 3 weeks later! Her level of dedication, passion and commitment to her tennis has risen to an even higher level.
I truly cannot thank Tennis Australia, Tennis Hot Shots and ANZ enough for this amazing experience. You have inspired a group of junior tennis players who one day hope to be playing at the Australian Open themselves.
If you think your child would love to experience such an amazing opportunity, be sure to enter at http://hotshots.tennis.com.au/win/