Mark Richards (left) is congratulated by Pat Cash after winning the Gallipoli Youth Cup
Mark Richards (left) is congratulated by Pat Cash after winning the Gallipoli Youth Cup. - Tennis Australia

Richards wins 2010 Gallipoli Youth Cup

Tennis Australia | 23rd April 2010

Queensland’s Mark Richards (Highfield) has won his first ITF tournament today - the Gallipoli Youth Cup, in Ipswich, Queensland.

Richards, a member of the Australian Institute of Sport Pro Tour Program and runner up at the ITF 18/u Grade 4 event last week, defeated unseeded Kieren Thompson (Bunya, Qld) 6-2 6-2 in the final.

Richards received his trophy from Gallipoli Youth Cup ambassador and Australian tennis champion Pat Cash, who arrived from London this morning after a week of flight delays.

“This is a great event and I'm proud to be the ambassador,” Cash said.

“It was fantastic to make it to the finals today and see some great claycourt tennis. Although the score in the final looked pretty straight forward, it was a really hard fought match. Mark is very quick, a good all-round player and his tennis was excellent today.”

AIS Coach Paul Baccanello has been working with Richards since the beginning of the year and has been impressed with his performance over the past two weeks.

“It was a good effort for him to back up [after losing in the final last week]. I think the sign of a good player is that he can be consistent and it was terrific to see Mark go one better this week,” Baccanello said.

“Last week was his first week on clay for some time and he started quite slowly, however he just got better and better as the tournament went on, and consistently improved.

“He went down in the final to Josh Barrenechea (Marsden, Qld) last week, but responded when he played him in the second round this week, winning in straight sets, which was fantastic to see.”

On the back of such promising results Richards has been awarded a wildcard into Australian Pro Tour event the City of Ipswich International, which commences Tuesday 27 April.

“Being granted a wildcard is good reward for Mark. He's worked really hard on and off the court and has been working very hard with Narelle Sibte, the AIS strength and conditioning coach, which has really improved him from a physical standpoint,” Baccanello continued.

Following the Australian Pro Tour event Richards will have a short break before a three-week training block at the AIS in Canberra. He will then head to Europe for a 10-week tour on clay, contesting a mix of high level junior events and Futures qualifying events.

In the girls' final, Queensland's Ashleigh Barty (Springfield) was defeated by Japan's Nao Hibino 7-6(8) 6-0.

Barty was contesting her fourth-consecutive final in four weeks and was on a 24-game winning streak but fell just short of the perfect birthday present – she turns 14 tomorrow.

Barty's excellent form over the past month has also been recognised with a wildcard into the main draw of the City of Ipswich International.

Pat Cash was highly impressed with 13-year-old Barty.

“I thought Ashleigh put in a phenomenal performance,” Pat Cash said of Barty's finals match today.

“For her to win 24 matches in a row is a real iron-man effort, an exceptional, super performance. She was very unlucky not to win the first set, but I think tiredness just got the best of her after four tournaments in a row. She is a real talent for the future,” Cash said.

The ITF Gallipoli Youth Cup was held as part of the Queensland Festival of Tennis in Ipswich, supported by Optus, Tennis Australia and the Ipswich City Council.

The Queensland Festival of Tennis in Ipswich will run from 31 March to 2 May and includes the Optus 14s National Claycourt Championships, the Optus 12s National Claycourt Championships, the Gallipoli Youth Tennis Cup, Ipswich ITF Junior Grade 4 event and the City of Ipswich International.

Pat Cash praised the concept of the month-long festival of claycourt tennis, and the excellent facilities of the George Alder Tennis Centre in Ipswich.

“I've seen some great claycourt tennis here today, the sort of tennis we need to see more of in Australia. This is just what our kids need to develop and compete with the world's best.

“Australian kids have to learn the art of claycourt playing and it is fantastic for them to have this centre here,” Cash continued.

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