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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 585

Mrs PRENTICE (RyanAssistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services) (10:35): I rise to speak about the spectacular summer of tennis that we have just experienced. It has been a season like no other with international stars of the court bringing breathtaking matches to the screens of millions of Australians and around the world.

The Federer-Nadal grand slam final at the Australian Open last week demonstrated the sheer talent, dedication and persistence of our tennis sporting super stars. Congratulations to Steve Healy, Craig Tiley and all the Tennis Australia team who make Australia's tennis events the most popular with players on the tennis circuit.

Close to 100,000 spectators enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Brisbane International for eight days at the beginning of January at the Queensland Tennis Centre at Tennyson. With 334 aces served during the tournament and 12 kilometres of string used for newly-strung racquets, the Brisbane International was a resounding success. Once again, we were honoured to have two Australian tennis greats, Roy Emerson and Evonne Goolagong Cawley, present the eponymous trophies to the men's and women's singles champions.

On 18 January, I was privileged to join Ken and Barbara Laffey for the unveiling of the Roy Emerson statue in Blackbutt. This life-sized bronze of the tennis legend pays homage to his 12 grand slam wins from this small regional Queensland town. As a right-hander, Roy was known for his exceptional level of fitness that saw him ready for even the most strenuous match on the hottest of days. The statue is a result of a wonderful community effort over several years, and deserved congratulations to Hazel and everyone involved for a great community event and lasting reminder.

Tennis is no longer the sport of yesteryear when white attire and gut-string racquets could be seen on private courts across Australia. Today, tennis is engaging with those from all walks of life. On that note, I must mention the ever-successful Hot Shots program. Launched in 2008, it is designed to help every child, no matter their age or ability, to start playing tennis. Children learn to play on the right-sized court, using racquets that are perfect for small hands and balls that do not bounce too high. Hot Shots encourages fitness, socialising, all-round entertainment, and what better sport to do this with than tennis. More than 500,000 children have experienced the program in the past 12 months alone.

Which brings me to the perfect time to congratulate two of my schools who showed amazing talent in the Brisbane International Schools Challenge. Brookfield State School coached by Roanne and John Lemmon-Warde won the orange and red ball events; and Jason Carriage and the team from Fig Tree Pocket State School had a fantastic run, finishing in fifth place in the green ball competition.

It is wonderful to see the growing profile of tennis throughout the whole of Queensland, including my electorate of Ryan. No matter where you are in the world or what language you speak, pick up a tennis racket and you are bound to meet friends who share your common bond. Congratulations to Lleyton Hewitt and the Davis Cup team on their recent win. As they say in tennis: game, set and match.