Teenager Josh McDermott is the latest promising Queenstown Tennis Club player to win a college tennis scholarship in the United States.
The 19-year-old flies off on August 12 for a four-year scholarship with the University of Missouri in Kansas City.
Club members Ben and Riki McLachlan, Louise Oxnevad, Harry James, James Smith and Miki Nobuzawa have also previously won US college scholarships.
McDermott’s lived in the resort for the past four years, playing for Wakatipu High as well as Queenstown Tennis Club, and this year trained with the Winton Tennis Academy funded by local developer Chris Meehan.
He’s been coached by ex-doubles pro Lan Bale and Riki McLachlan.
McDermott says his best results have been in doubles – for example, making the doubles semi-finals at the under-18 nationals – but he’s also adept at singles.
He believes his movement around the court is his best attribute.
“I’m just trying to work on harnessing that”.
After leaving Wakatipu High, he tossed up between studying for a pilot’s licence and tennis, but is happy with the choice he’s made.
He initially started the college process himself, before getting his placement through Wellington’s Platform Sports Management.
At Missouri he’ll be one of nine players chasing six spots on the college’s Division 1 team.
The college competes in the Western Athletic Conference which includes teams as far away as Illinois, Texas and Arizona.
“There are fees but it’s cheaper than to go to a university here,” McDermott says.
In addition to a rigorous training and playing schedule, he’ll study for a major in business administration and a minor in political studies.
Like the McLachlan brothers Ben and Riki, his dad’s a Kiwi and his mum’s Japanese, and he’s grown up speaking Japanese and English.
In the case of pro doubles player Ben, his career’s snowballed since throwing his lot in with Japan last year.
Bale, meanwhile, says US college tennis is a fantastic opportunity for McDermott.
“He will be an ideal team player – he’s a good tennis player, he’s a super-nice kid, he’s the kind of guy you want on a team.
“He’s always going to be putting in 100 per cent effort.”