IN JUST four years Archie Graham has gone from mucking around with a racquet in his grand mother's backyard to national champion.
Last month Graham won the Australian Tennis Open for players with intellectual disabilities at Melbourne's Albert Park.
The tournament was run in conjunction with the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
The former St Eddies student, who lives in Eastern Heights, lost one match in the lead up to the final, to fellow Queenslander Mitchell James.
He met James again in the final and was too strong, winning 6-1, 6-2.
"I was still confident," Graham said of going into the final against a player he had recently lost to.
"I was ready for that and had had a good night's sleep.
"I just kept focused and didn't let the game I'd lost beat me up."
At 182cm Graham backed his big weapons.
"I'm more like a deep court player," he said.
"I like to use my forehand and my serve is very big."
After taking the first set in the final Graham had his serve broken early in the second, but showed a champion's spirit to break back immediately and close out the match.
"I didn't face a break point in the first set," he said.
"When I lost my serve in the second set I just kept positive in my head, tried to play the points out and make him force a mistake."
When I lost my serve in the second set I just kept positive in my head, tried to play the points out and make him force a mistake.
The 19-year-old Graham has only been playing tennis for the past four years but has improved dramatically in the past year under the watchful eye of coach Stan Cuthbert at Ipswich's Chermside Road courts.
"I have to thank my coach for helping me get to the point I can play good tennis," he said.
He began playing at his grandmother's house at Newtown.
"I have improved because I've been training well and developing my game," he said.
The Albert Park hard courts are a lot different to the grass at Chermside Road where he trains five days a week and the clay at the George Alder centre, where he works.
But Graham went to Melbourne prepared and confident.
"I did a lot of practice on hard courts as well when I got a chance with someone else," he said.
Graham has achieved his main goal of becoming the number one ID player in Australia, but already has another goal on his horizon.
Australia will send a team to the Czech Republic in July for the ID equivalent of the Davis Cup and Graham hopes to be part of it.
Beyond that he wants to represent Australia at the next Special Olympics world games in Los Angeles in 2015.
- Best advice: Think about what shots I'm going to play and be positive.
- Pre-match meal: Porridge with orange juice.
- Favourite TV show: The Simpsons.
- Favourite player: Rafael Nadal.
- Biggest influence: My coach Stan Cuthbert, my mum Claire, my brother and sister and all my friends.
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