Lleyton found his passion for tennis when he was just 10 years old. He’d been successful in many other sports at school over the years, winning state titles and local competitions including basketball, touch football and cross country. One day he decided to try his hand at tennis, and he said it “just felt right”.
In 2016, when Lleyton was 13, he and his mum Lisa and sister Shania relocated from Gloucester to Newcastle in NSW, to help Lleyton access coaching without having to drive many hours to Forster each week. Not long after, he applied for assistance from Grow a Star to enrol in a training program with Newcastle’s Innovate - Sport Specific Conditioning. It had been tough financially for Lisa as a single mum to fund the coaching, equipment, tournament fees and travel costs associated with top level tennis.
A highlight for Lleyton was when he received a personal letter from Aussie tennis legend Ken Rosewall. At 14, Lleyton had won the medal named after the eight times Grand Slam singles winner. He was selected as best and fairest from 241 players in the Inter-district league in Sydney. Lleyton won every match; he didn’t drop a set.
2019 was a busy year for Lleyton, winning awards from the Hunter Academy of Sport for Most Outstanding Male Athlete in an Individual Sport, Hunter Blues Sports Award (Top 8 in State for Tennis), Lambton High School’s Tennis Player of the Year, Athletics Age Champion and Cross-Country Age Champion.
2020 saw Lleyton complete his HSC, however the COVID-19 pandemic took him on an unexpected path with tennis. He was hoping to get his rankings up during his final year of school, but with all of the national and international competitions being cancelled, he wasn’t able to achieve that goal. Instead, he used the downtime to focus on increasing his intensity program with his coach, Anthony at Newcastle’s Innovate - Sport Specific Conditioning.
As fate would have it, the pandemic had a silver lining for Lleyton, with his coach Anthony at Innovate suggesting he forget about the junior competition in NSW and head straight for the professional scene. He worked with Lleyton for 9 weeks with 3 x one-on-one sessions a week, building up his strength, undergoing body movement assessments, conditioning and specialised training in preparation for the professional circuit in Melbourne.
Lleyton was assigned a coach at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Sports Academy, where he took part in a disciplined and challenging training program designed to empower and maximise his potential in tennis across all five components of the game (technical, tactical, physical, mental and nutritional).
Lleyton’s mum Lisa and sister Shania moved to Melbourne with him in January 2021 to support him. It took them over two weeks to get there with all of the border lockdowns, testing and isolation time.
In mid-2021, Lleyton was able to travel to Qld and the NT to compete in several junior tournaments and his results were very impressive. On his way back to Melbourne he was held up on the Gold Coast and was able to attend the KDV Sports Centre while he waited for borders to re-open.
When Lleyton finally returned to Melbourne, he found himself in lockdown again and was not able to attend the Maribyrnong Sports Academy. After speaking with his coaches about his experiences on the Gold Coast with KDV Sport, they advised him that it might be a better option to move to Qld because of the ongoing COVID situation in Victoria.
So, in November 2021 Lleyton was accepted into the tennis program at KDV Sport and he and his family relocated to the Gold Coast.
The move did not come without challenges. It took 8 weeks to receive their border passes to enter Qld after a couple of temporary relocations in NSW. Finding permanent accommodation in Qld has also been difficult..
Lleyton commenced training at KDV Sport in late January 2022 and he has been doing a lot of promotional work with his racquet sponsor, Tenex and is receiving a small wage for it.
Lleyton’s mum Lisa said they are confident they will eventually find permanent accommodation and settle into the Gold Coast life and Lleyton can start to focus on his tennis again.
Lisa says “If it wasn’t for Grow a Star, Lleyton would never have been able to enrol in that original training program. We just couldn’t afford it at the time. It really made the world of difference to his game and enabled him to develop the strength to compete against older players.”
Look out for Lleyton, he could well be starring in Australian and international tennis tournaments in the very near future.