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Patience pays off for Australian Open debutant Anderson Parker | 22 January, 2024 | All News | News and Features | News and Events

Patience pays off for Australian Open debutant Anderson Parker | 22 January, 2024 | All News | News and Features | News and Events

Anderson Parker, one of Australia’s leading wheelchair tennis athletes, has faced several challenges to fulfil his Grand Slam dreams.

Melbourne, Australia, 22 January 2024 | Leigh Rogers

โ€œThe nerves are flooding in,โ€ admitted Anderson Parker ahead of his Grand Slam debut today.

Itโ€™s been a long and testing journey for the 25-year-old from Sydney to reach this stage, but after receiving a wildcard into the Australian Open 2024 menโ€™s wheelchair singles competition,ย he is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Parker excelled in wheelchair tennis as a teen, peaking at world No.6 in the junior rankings. However, he was forced out of the sport for seven years when his disability was reclassified.

He enjoyed a stint playing wheelchair basketball and found work as a forklift driver and warehouse assistant, but when a rule change in 2022 meant he was once again eligible to compete on the ITF World Tennis Tour, Parker did not have to think twice about returning to a sport he loves.

โ€œIโ€™ve been back ever since and Iโ€™m looking forward to taking it full time,โ€ he said.

Parker made his competitive comeback at a tournament in Sydney in April 2022 and won his first ITF professional title in Melbourne a year later.

He is currently ranked No.91 in the world, 12 spots shy of the career-high he achieved as a teenager nine years ago.

โ€œOver the past two years, a lot of training has happened. Iโ€™m glad that Tennis Australia has seen that and given me this opportunity,โ€ Parker said.

โ€œI want to push my way to the top and this could springboard my tennis.โ€

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 menโ€™s wheelchair singles draw

Parker trains regularly in Sydney alongside the experienced Ben Weekes, the world No.36 and a fellow wildcard recipient at Australian Open 2024.

โ€œHeโ€™s definitely helped me to develop my skills as fast as I can,โ€ Parker said of the enduring 39-year-old. โ€œHeโ€™s one of the best in Australia so itโ€™s good to hit with him often.โ€

It is the strong camaraderie that Parker has relished most since returning to the sport. He names Finn Broadbent and Heath Davidson as among the other leading Aussie players to provide support.

โ€œThe tennis community is so lovely, so coming back into it is easy,โ€ he said. โ€œThe training is the hardest part, but it makes it easier when you have a good bunch of people around you.โ€

One of Parkerโ€™s ambitions is to give back to the sport through City Community…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Tennis.com.au – Tennis Australiaโ€ฆ