4th December 2008
First Sovereign Superstars Found At South Island Championships
Ben Johnston and Pang Suwanaposse
13 year old Christchurch tennis player Ben Johnston and has had the win of his life. Ben today took out the South Island Primary and Intermediate Schools tournament in Ashburton and in doing so has booked a place at the Sovereign Superstars at the Heineken Open in January.
Ben and one parent will travel expenses paid to Auckland to taste life as professional player in a 'money can't buy experience' courtesy of Sovereign. He will be joined by the winners from the Central and Northern regions in Auckland but right now can't quite believe his good fortune after defeating great rival Elliot Darling for the first time.
"I am just so excited about the opportunity, it is the first time I have beaten Elliot and can't think of a better time to do it with the Sovereign Superstars prize up for grabs.
"I guess right now it hasn't sunk in but the things I am looking forward to most with the Sovereign Superstars experience is to meet a few big name players, be on television and not having to get the tennis balls from the fence on centre court!"
Ben and the other children will play matches live on TV on centre court at the tournament and enjoy all the trappings of travel and accommodation that the touring professionals enjoy every week on tour.
Ben is in a tennis mad family and may well have set the jealousy metre running wild with older sisters Olivia and Sarah in the sport, as well as Dad Simon playing socially.
Mum Mary was thrilled and says the decision about who will travel with Ben might not be a difficult one.
"That is a discussion that we haven't had yet but my first instinct is we will probably pay our own way for whichever one of us isn't covered by Sovereign Superstars, that way we can all be there for the experience."
Ben lists his favourite player as being Roger Federer, although he also has a soft spot for his biggest rival in Rafael Nadal. Come January he will be sharing the same centre court as all the stars at the Heineken Open as a Sovereign Superstar.
The girls tournament was won by Pang Suwanaposse, also from Canterbury. Pang also books herself and a parent a place as a Sovereign Superstar at the Heineken Open in January.
Unlike her earlier rounds, Pang was pushed by Sian English to play her very best tennis. Pang took the first set 6-1 but in the second set English showed it was not going to be as easy. Keeping even right through the set, Pang went ahead 5-4 and closed out the match 6-1 6-4 to become the Girls South Island Sovereign Superstar.
Very little separated the players in the boys Singles final, it took a tie break in the first set which Elliot Darling won 7-4. Benjamin Johnston came out strongly in the second set to take a decisive lead 4-0, Darling came back to square the set at 4 all. Johnston continued to apply the pressure on Darling's serve over the next 4 games and a double fault on set point handed Johnston the second set.
The 3rd set saw Darling take an early lead and at 3-1 Johnston suffered from cramp but after recovering he was able to refocus and power on to take out the match 6-4 in the Final set.
Sovereign Superstars receive:
* Travel to and from Auckland with accommodation and meals provided.
* Travel to and from the tournament venue will be with official player transport provider.
* Play in a competitive knock out style competition on centre court at the Heineken Open. Crowds in excess of 3,000 are expected to be in attendance.
* A chance to meet and mingle with the touring professionals and seek advice and tips on how to improve your game.
* Attend your very own post match media conference and be interviewed by the media - after some tips from the experts of course on how to handle the tough questions!
* A chance to discuss the life of a tennis professional with former tennis professionals and mentors to the Sovereign Superstars programme.