TAMWORTH tennis prodigy Ciaran Lavers has already had a successful year by any standards, but he has one more big tournament in his sights.
The 15-year-old Farrer student has been winning and placing in tournaments all year but the nationals in Melbourne next month will be the biggest test so far.
“I’ve just been to Coffs for a tournament,” Lavers said.
“I was runner-up in the singles and won the doubles.
“Next I’m going to the December Showdown, which is the Australian nationals, on the 8th of December.”
Lavers has played in a national junior event in Sydney but it’s his first time playing at Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open.
He knows how tough it will be against the best under 16 players in Australia.
“I know a fair few of them,” he said.
“In Sydney I came 6th, but that was in 14s.
“It gets harder.”
So far in 2012 Lavers has won junior tournaments in Tamworth (U16 singles and doubles), Werris Creek (doubles and special doubles) and Armidale (open mixed doubles) and at the Country Championships, was a finalist at Inverell (U16 singles, doubles and special doubles), the NSW Gold Cup (U16 singles) and at Armidale (open singles) and has reached semi finals and quarter finals at several other events.
The right-hander who rates his serve, forehand and net game as his strengths has an overall national ranking of 305, but is aiming to make the top 200 by the middle of next year.
In his under 16 age group he ranks in the 20s in Australia and is NSW number eight, but hopes to break into the top 20 nationally in the coming months.
Although he is only just coming to the end of Year 10 Lavers is already looking to life after school.
He wants to take his game all the way to the elite level and a move to America would help that happen.
“I want to go to college in the states and play while I get my degree,” he said.
“There’s one I really want to go to called Pepperdine, that’s in Malibu.
“It’s really hard to get into.”
But Lavers is going to try nonetheless.
Towards the end of next year he will start the application process.
In the meantime he is busy, not only training and playing, but also coaching.
He trains at West Tamworth Tennis Club and has already taken on the role of teaching some of the club’s juniors.
“I train with Mitch (Power) on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and have squad training on Wednesdays,” he said.
“I also coach on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for Rod (Ball).
“I go to the gym on Wednesdays and Fridays at school.
“I want to lift my training a bit.”
All of those things will help to create what he hopes is a career in tennis.
Lavers will turn 16 four days before the nationals in Melbourne.