ANZ Tennis Hot Shots helps Poppy’s dream come true

STAR VISIT: Alicia Molik with ANZ Tennis Hot Shot of the Year Poppy and three of her friends

Being part of ANZ Tennis Hot Shots led to the opportunity of a lifetime for Bundaberg youngster Poppy.

The 11-year-old welcomed program ambassador and Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik to her local tennis club, Bundaberg Junior Tennis Association in Rotary Park, Queensland in July. Molik led a private lesson for Poppy and three of her friends as part of her prize for winning the 2017 ANZ Tennis Hot Shot of the Year competition.

The annual ANZ Tennis Hot Shot of the Year competition recognises eight budding tennis stars from around Australia for their participation, enthusiasm and enjoyment of the game whilst demonstrating sportsmanlike qualities.

In January, the chosen finalists had a VIP experience at the Australian Open, including a behind-the-scenes tour, the chance to watch some of the world’s best tennis players and a money-can’t-buy opportunity to play at Rod Laver Arena.

As the competition winner, Poppy also took home an exclusive prize of $5,000 and one year’s worth of free tennis coaching lessons.

> Find out more about the ANZ Tennis Hot Shot of the Year competition

Poppy said the experience of winning the competition has been a real highlight, but it’s her love of the social side of tennis that keeps her coming back.

“I was really excited and completely shocked. It’s really special I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Poppy said.

“It’s probably my favourite sport. I’ve been playing tennis for about four years now.

“I started off at school and it just went from there. I do coaching on Mondays and on Saturdays and then after that I do the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots games.”

ANZ Tennis Hot Shots ambassador Alicia Molik said hitting with Poppy in her hometown brought back memories of when she started playing tennis.

“It’s the most enjoyable part of my job,” Molik said about visiting Poppy in Bundaberg.

“I grew up in humble beginnings, small clubs, a small town in Adelaide and I just loved playing tennis because it was my safe-haven, in fact very similar to this and it was always a sport that I really loved.

“It gave me a sense of community a safe place to go and meet friends and play out of pure enjoyment – no different to the reasons Poppy is playing tennis.

“For me it was about friends and it’s no different with Poppy and having her mates in her local club as well.”.

The ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program is inspiring kids’ love of tennis across Australia, providing a great way for kids to jump into the sport no matter their age or ability.

The program teaches skills like agility, flexibility and speed plus it helps kids learn important social skills, making lots of friends along the way.

And for Poppy, while she’s not sure of her future career ambitions, there’s one thing she knows for certain – she’ll keep playing tennis well into the future.

“I love how social it is – it’s just about having a go and having fun and meeting some friends. I’m definitely going to keep going,” Poppy said.

“I think for now I’ll just keep doing it socially I don’t know if I want a career in it but I think it’s really fun just to play with friends.”

> Enter the 2018 ANZ Tennis Hot Shot of the Year competition