29 April 2010

Collingwood Park-based tennis star Mark Richards on the rise

COLLINGWOOD Park-based tennis player Mark Richards bowed out of  the City of Ipswich International yesterday after a terrific fortnight  at Leichhardt.

Top effort: Women's number one seed, Queenslander
Shannon Golds, displays her confident form in comfortably
beating NSW opponent Deeon Mladin 6-0, 6-2 at Leichhardt

COLLINGWOOD Park-based tennis player Mark Richards bowed out of the City of Ipswich International yesterday after a terrific fortnight at Leichhardt.

Richards lost 6-1, 6-4 to top seed and Australian Open player Brydan Klein in his first round of the ITF Pro Tour event at George Alder Tennis Centre.

However, the rising 16-year-old benefited from playing an Australian Open and Davis Cup player.

"It was a tough game against Brydan Klein who has got a lot of experience," Richards said.

"On serves, he gets a lot more free points and you really have to take your chances against someone like that.

"I was very fortunate to get a wildcard into here."

Richards entered this week's international tournament in top form having won the Gallipoli Youth Cup final last Friday after reaching the Australian International Junior Grade 4 final a week earlier.

"I'm very happy with getting a lot of matches under my belt," the former Toowoomba player said.

"It's really good for me to develop my game on the clay and hit a lot of balls."

Richards' dad is senior pastor at Kruger Parade Baptist Church and his mum works at Springfield Lakes State School.

"This year I got into the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) program so I'm based down in Canberra," the rapidly emerging teenager said. "But I still come up here (Ipswich) a lot."

Another regional hope Ashleigh Barty lost her first round match 6-4, 7-5 to Karolina Wlodarczak.

Making her Australian Pro Tour debut, the 14-year-old Springfield player battled gallantly before going down to the Victorian.

Richards is planning a short break this week before focusing on next week's Pro Tour circuit event in Bundaberg and heading to Europe for a 10-week tour.

"I think it's a bunch of Futures and also some under-18 ITF events where I'll get a lot of different opponents," Richards said.

Klein, 20, is also planning to play next week's Bundaberg tournament before having a rest after returning from the United States.

"I thought I played pretty," Klein said after yesterday's match.

"I started off with a bad service game but then I played a really good set.

"I didn't play as good a second set as I would have liked but I was happy to get off to a good lead in the second set.

"A credit to him (Richards). He played slightly better in the second and pushed me a bit more."

In 2009, Klein reached the second round of the Australian Open and made his Davis Cup debut against Thailand.

As this week's men's top seed, the Perth-based right-hander is keen for more success in Ipswich after a satisfying victory in Arkansaw on hardcourt two weeks ago.

"I've just come from the US and I've come home pretty much to have a rest," he said.

"I thought while these two tournaments (Ipswich and Bundaberg) are here, I might as well play them. I haven't played on clay for a while.

"I'm definitely trying to pick up (international ranking) points and I'm looking to try and get a few titles under my belt.

"I'm looking to try and get a few more to get my ranking up."

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