WHILE the likes of Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis will be sweating it up on the courts this summer, one Port Macquarie tennis ace is hoping to join them in the not-too-distant future.
Thirteen-year-old Matthew Ternes, a member of the North Coast tennis academy based in Coffs Harbour, was recently chosen to represent NSW Country at the Federation Cup Inter-state Challenge in Adelaide.
The tournament, contested at Memorial Drive over five days, featured the best four country male players - up to 13 years of age - from NSW, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.
Not only did NSW Country win the prestigious competition, but Ternes returned home undefeated in both singles and doubles.
In fact, Ternes blitzed his opponents one-on-one - recording an 8-0 drubbing against South Australia, thrashing Western Australia 8-0 and trouncing his Victorian counterpart 8-1.
"The tennis was pretty strong, however I played really well throughout the tournament," Ternes told the Port Macquarie News on his return.
"The event was sanctioned by the NSW Country Tennis Association, who also covered my expenses.
"It was a great opportunity."
A past winner of the Coca-Cola Hastings junior sportsperson of the year award (in 2004), Ternes is keen to continue his charge towards a professional career.
"I'd like to take up tennis full-time," he admitted.
"When a tournament is approaching I train every day with my dad, as well as my coach John Stoddart.
"Even if I'm not preparing for an event, I usually take to the court with John - at the Port Macquarie Tennis Club - once a week.
"My next competition is a junior tournament in Sydney next month."
A big fan of world number one Roger Federer, Ternes also enjoys watching the skills of Hewitt, Rafael Nadal and long-time champion Andre Agassi.
"Federer is probably my favourite player," he said.
"But I met Hewitt, Philippoussis and Alicia Molik when I was competing in Adelaide.
"I watched them train and, even in that short time, I learnt a lot.
"It was good to meet them and hear what they had to say."
And, the best piece of advice Ternes received?
"They told me to keep following my dream and work hard," he stated.