THE Kyvalley tennis club juniors were counting their lucky stars earlier this month as they got the chance to play on Rod Laver Arena during day eight at the Australian Open. Riley Wilkinson was even luckier as he got the chance to flip the coin before the second match of the day.
He and his family then got to stay and watch Angelique Kerber defeat Su-Wei Hsieh and Roger Federer defeat Marton Fucsovics.
Riley’s mum, Kristy, said the experience was one the family wouldn’t forget any time soon.
“We were pretty lucky too that we were able to get tickets to stay in and watch the Federer match,” she said.
“It was sort of a once in a lifetime thing, which was just great — especially seeing as we’d never been to watch the tennis before.”
As for Riley’s preparation for the event, Mrs Wilkinson said he has his father to thank for the coaching.
“His dad made him practise the coin flip quite a lot, he said ‘I want to see you do 10 good flips in a row’,” she said.
But for Riley, it was playing on Rod Laver that was a highlight. He and nine other Kyvalley kids got to participate in the ANZ Kids on Court showcase.
However the kids would have preferred to draw a bigger crowd.
“It was fun getting to play on Rod Laver but because we were so early in the day there weren’t that many people watching us,” he said.
The kids also got the chance to meet two-time gold Paralympic medallist Dylan Alcott and even pose for a photo on court.
Kyvalley tennis club’s Melissa Williams said it really was the opportunity of a lifetime for some of the kids.
“The kids really enjoyed the on-court experience and afterwards they had free time to watch a couple of matches and get some pictures with the players,” she said.
“The highlight for two of the kids was getting former world number one Lleyton Hewitt’s autograph.”