No rest for Traralgon tennis young gun

For most youngsters the school holidays is a time to relax and catch up with friends or play video games.

But for Traralgon’s Ben Grumley the two weeks off provided the perfect opportunity to squeeze two tennis tournaments into his already hectic schedule.

It is this type of hard work and dedication which has resulted in the 14 year-old qualifying for Tennis Victoria’s Player Support Program.

Ben said he had been playing tennis since he “could pick up a racquet” and had been waiting a couple of years to be included in the program.

Each year the top 10 metropolitan players aged between 13 and 17 are invited to take part in the program, in addition to the top 11 to 25 regionally-based.

Ben trained with the squad for the first time recently and said he enjoyed the experience.

“It was just sort of different having the new coaches and someone came in and was a sports psych and talked to us about our mentality,” he said.

“It was interesting hearing from him.”

He said the biggest lessons he learnt came from “the feedback that you get from the coaches about your all-round game”.

It has been a busy few weeks for Ben, who spent the first week of the school holidays playing a tournament in Bendigo before taking part in the Sale Spring Junior Tournament last week. He made the quarter finals in Bendigo before going on to win the doubles and singles in Sale.

Ben was clear about the type of mental skills necessary to play in back-to-back week-long tournaments.

“You just sort of have to restart – start thinking it’s a new tournament, you can do something different this time,” he said.

“Last time I lost a round before quarters and now I’m thinking… take it one match at a time.”

Traralgon Tennis Association head coach Graham Charlton said it was a “great honour” for Ben to qualify for the program, which he said was “virtually the state squad”.

“(He’s a) great all-round player,” Charlton said.

“(He’s) very, very strong from the back of the court, very good moving forward and great around the net.

“That’s our holistic approach – it’s not one style of game.”

He said Ben had the ability to mix-up his game and try something new when under pressure.

“If he’s playing me and I’m beating him he’s got to have the guts to change his game up and try something different,” Charlton said.

“If they haven’t got that belief in themselves and that skill level they can’t do that and that’s what he does very well.

“I think the reason why he’s in the state squad, I think he’s really matured a lot the last 18 months mentally on the court.”