Queenstown’s court short – tennis boss


The under-fire boss of Tennis NZ says the only problem with the sport in Queenstown is lack of courts.

Steve Walker, in town on Monday during an annual roadshow to clubs nationwide, says Queenstown tennis fights above its weight, given its isolation and small population.

Walker met Queenstown coach Mark Milburn and spent time watching top local player Ben McLachlan – ranked 71 in world juniors – train with former tour pro Lan Bale.

“To be able to sit on the balcony and see the beginner tennis stuff on one court and two courts across from it, there’s a guy who’s top 70 in the world for juniors hitting with a former tour pro [at a club] that’s got four courts is impressive.

“I don’t think Tennis NZ would be rolling into Queenstown telling people what needs to be done,” Walker says.

The only shortcomings are a lack of courts and an indoor facility for mid-winter training, he says.

“I can’t imagine there’s enough to sustain the future tennis needs of the area.”

Walker, who recently faced stinging criticism from former Kiwi tennis great Onny Parun after New Zealand’s 4-1 Davis Cup loss to the lowly ranked Philippines, says NZ has had more than 10 juniors in the world’s top 100 in the past year.

“The really tough challenge is to get the ones that are good enough on a five-year transitional programme so they go from the top 100 juniors to being top in the seniors.”