Watch out Nadal, Kiwi talent on way


Tennis teens take on world’s best.

Queenstown tennis teens Riki and Ben McLachlan are psyched up to serve their best sets at Melbourne’s junior tennis Grand Slam.

The brothers, who have been based in Australia this summer, hit Melbourne Park from this Sunday as part of the Australian Open – the junior tournament runs till January 31.

Riki, 17, and Ben, 16, aren’t planning to check out Melbourne tourist spots – they’re more excited about seeing the men’s open or bumping into a tennis star, says Riki. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to name a few.

Junior draws aren’t confirmed but coach Lan Bale says his boys have just got to go for it.

The sky’s the limit for Riki, ranked 72, and Ben ranked 69 in the world, who’ll compete in singles and doubles matches against tough competition as part of their debut Grand Slam.

They’ve competed strongly in the Australian summer circuit leading into the Aussie Open.

Dad Craig McLachlan says it’s the biggest tournament of their young lives .

“Hopefully, there are bigger things coming in the air,” the proud father says.

The brothers kick-start their day about 7.30am with cereal, fruit and toast.

Training is three hours of tennis a day and a half-hour run.

The brothers bunk down with other juniors at an official hotel, and shuttles run every 15 minutes to get them to their games on time.

Bale says they’ll be prepared to deal with conditions on the day – Riki and Ben plan to sustain themselves with muesli bars, bananas and energy drinks.

The coach says the boys motivate themselves.

“Part of the coaching role is to make them exposed to other players.”

If it all goes to plan, the talented teens will be looking ahead to Junior Wimbledon and French Open Juniors.