Tennis league gives rising talent a leg-up

ASPIRING tennis professional Aaron Leeder-Chard sees the new Asia-Pacific Tennis League Victorian competition as a major stepping stone into the summer season.

The ATL was created to give emerging players some money and some tough competition in the lead-up to the major tennis tournaments of the summer while giving local supporters the chance to see tennis in a new format. Sets are played to four games instead of six and each club hosts a full round of matches.

The competition, which has both men's and women's leagues, begins on November 11 with NSW, Queensland and South Australia also hosting versions of the competition.

The best Australian teams will play in the ATL playoffs at Melbourne Park during the second week of the Australian Open against competition winners from New Zealand and Asia.

SEE Waverley Warriors captain relishes format.

Leeder-Chard, ranked 1233 in the world, was asked by Waverley Warriors team manager Lyn Gillen to join the team, which will be run by the Waverley Tennis Association and play its home round at the association's base at Doveton Tennis Club.

Each team will have nine players who will play in four singles ties and two doubles matches with older, former tour veterans mixing with current and aspiring players.

The 21 year old, who comes from Mt Eliza, said the format of the competition and the offer of match payments made it a winner in his eyes.

"Being a tennis player is quite hard and really expensive.

"So giving us player payments help us out, and if we can be at home and pick up a bit of money it will help us afford the travel to tournaments later in the year."

Leeder-Chard said playing in a team event also appealed to him after playing in futures events in Thailand and Japan along with other events in Cairns, Alice Springs and Western Australia.

"I've never played with this format before.

"It's pretty interesting and exciting. You have a coach on court and the team spirit is always refreshing because it's not just about yourself — it's about the team."

Waverley Tennis will host a ATL super round, featuring men's and women's matches, at Doveton Tennis Club on November 25, starting at 1pm.

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