A young Bendigo ANZ Tennis Hot Shots participant has been given a once in a life time opportunity to toss the coin at the beginning of a match at the 2018 Australian Open.
Shanali Wickramasinghe said she is very enthusiastic to be representing Bendigo at the Open and hopes to toss the coin for Angelique Kerber, as her idol Serena Williams is not competing this year.
"I'm very excited,” she said.
Buddhi Wickramasinghe, Shanali’s father said he’s very proud and it’s “very special” for his daughter to be the first Bendigo player chosen to toss the coin at the Open.
“We were on holidays in Sri Lanka and Stephen Storer rang me to let us know that Shanali had been selected,” Mr Wickramasinghe said.
“It was early morning, I was so excited that I jumped out of bed.”
“Shanali was jumping up and down when she found out, she knows a lot of the players and can’t wait to be there. She’s very excited.”
The 2018 Australian Open will be played at Melbourne Park between 15-28 January where tennis stars Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Angelique Kerber and Daria Gavrilova will be competing.
Shanali does not yet know which match she will tossing the coin at, however she does know that it will be on Day 7, Sunday 21 January.
Stephen Storer Tennis Australia club professional coach and head coach at the Bendigo Tennis Academy said Shanali is a consistent player and loves having lessons with her coach Brianna Smith.
"Shanali is only young, but she comes along to tennis every week. She's dressed for success, wears all the gear and is a great player,” Mr Storer said.
"We've never had someone from Bendigo who has been chosen to toss the coin.”
Shanali was one of the few young Bendigo players the Bendigo Tennis Academy nominated to toss the coin, she was then shortlisted and eventually chosen.
Assistant head coach Brianna Smith said its “unreal” to have one of her own students chosen and that it’s awesome to finally have a Bendigo local tossing the coin.
“Shes the most committed girl I have met, I definitely see her playing more tournaments and I believe she could eventually become a professional,” Ms Smith said.
We've never had someone from Bendigo who has been chosen to toss the coin.Stephen Storer Tennis Australia club professional coach