Tennis tyros netting success

Three young Queenstown tennis players starred at recent national under-age tournaments.

Kai Milburn, 15, won the under-18 and U16 doubles ith Palmerston North’s Jonty Giesen, and the U16 singles, defeating a boy he’d never beaten before.

It’s thought to be the first time a Queenstown Tennis Club player’s claimed a national singles title.

Kai’s brother Dan, 14, was runner-up in the U14 singles, losing out to a top New Zealand-born Aussie, and runner-up in the U14 doubles with Christchurch-based Jack Hansen-Ratter.

Dan also made the quarters of the U16 singles, then won some plate matches.

Local 12-year-old Justin-Li Moroney, meanwhile, won the U12 boys’ doubles with Auckland’s Alvin Na.

Last week Kai also claimed the Wānaka Open singles title, and was runner-up in the doubles.

The Milburn brothers’ primary coach is their dad, Mark, who’s also the local tennis club’s main coach.

He believes the boys benefited from a stint in Japan last year, where they both won tournaments — their mum Takako hails from there.

‘‘Hard training in the heat was really good for my tennis,’’ Kai says.

The brothers are playing International Tennis Federation tournaments in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland this month before joining a Tennis NZ training camp.

They’re hoping to make the NZ team for Oceania champs in Asia around April/May.

Kai’s already NZ’s no.1-ranked U16 player with a world U18 ranking of 650.

He’s hoping to drop that down to ‘‘the top-100s’’ in the next two years to qualify for junior grand slams.

While inspired by Queenstown-raised doubles pro Ben McLachlan, their main focus is on singles at the moment.

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