Away from the lush lawn of SW19 and the overseas events, the UTR pro-level tournaments have provided an opportunity for Australian players to continue to earn winnings and stay in form when not traveling overseas.
The structure of these tournaments is formatted in group stages with the top player in each group playing in a 1st place playoff. The events have been held frequently throughout 2021 with tournaments in Bendigo, Canberra, West Lakes, and Brisbane so far.
Drawing attention at these events are some recognisable names to Australian tennis fans as well as some names that we will hear in the years to come.
One of those familiar names is Omar Jasika, making his return to tennis after a two-year hiatus. In the tournaments he has competed in, Jasika has performed well in the group stages. However, he had mixed results against those who are equally ranked, going 36-13 since the start of January.
Li Tu is another one of those names that may be recognisable from the Australian Summer. The 25-year-old received a wildcard into the Australian Open where he fell to Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez. Tu has been consistent at UTR Pro level events reaching a first-place playoff six times in seven tournaments.
On the women’s side, Jaimee Fourlis and Kim Birrell are looking to make their comebacks from injuries that have kept them from playing consistent tennis over the last few seasons.
Before heading overseas at the end of March, Jaimee Fourlis was having a great run of form at the pro-level events. She reached the semi-finals in both events showing glimpses of her best tennis as she looks to rise up the rankings. Overseas, Fourlis has only managed a handful of wins but has been competitive in her losses only losing sets by a break of serve.
Kim Birrell started 2021 on fire during the Melbourne Summer Series, reaching the round of 16 in one of the lead-in tournaments to the Australian Open. Birrell has played one UTR pro-level tournament this year making it to the 1st place playoff rounds.
Amongst the familiar names, there are a few players that will become well-known names in the years to come.
Annerly Poulos is Australia’s best female junior and is making good progress at pro level. In the last 6 months, the 18-year old has a 12-2 record, her best win coming against Kim Birrell in the UTR Brisbane tournament in March. As the year draws to an end, watch for Poulos’ name during the December Showdown and the AO Wildcard Playoff.
Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz had a great start to 2021. Her Australian summer gave her the opportunity to play against some of the world’s best during the Summer Series. As well as playing alongside Simona Halep in doubles events right across February.
The 16-year old has gone 7-3 in the last 6 months of UTR pro-level tournaments. Like Poulos, Kempenaers-Pocz will be one to watch over the next summer of tennis in Australia and will be tough to go up against in the AO Wildcard Playoff.
Dane Sweeny is one to watch develop his game over the next few years. A clean hitter of the ball with tremendous court movement. Sweeny only dropped two matches at UTR Pro level in Australia this year. The 20-year-old has now jetted off to North America and has been competing in ITF and Challenger tournaments.
Similarly, Tristan Schoolkate is in North America attempting to face some new international competition over the last few months with a strong run in Tulsa. Prior to his departure, he was very successful during the UTR pro-level tournaments in Australia making the 1st place playoff rounds in every tournament he entered.
Queensland Tennis Centre and Sydney Olympic Park will be the next destinations of the UTR Pro tour in Australia with the Queensland venue playing host from July 18th.
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