Schoolgirl courts glory at Casino AMT

IT’S a long way from Casino to the English city of Wolverhampton — but Lara Tupper has taken a big step to bridging the gap.

The 15-year-old schoolgirl defied infuriating conditions and a tough opponent to claim her biggest ever singles trophy at this year’s Casino AMT.

Tupper came through a three-set battle lasting more than two hours to defeat Ashleigh Elward in yesterday’s women’s singles final.

The Gold Coast player said she would put the $750 first prize to a long-awaited visit to see her grandmother, who lives in the English Midlands city.

«I’m overwhelmed,» Tupper said.

«I haven’t done that well in a tournament for about a year. This is massive for me.»

The third seed claimed the crown after an entertaining see-saw battle in which both players had to contend with rain breaks and a swirling wind.

«Ashleigh played amazing,» Tupper said. «She’s a great player and a great person.

«Every sport is hard, but tennis has those hard moments because you are alone on the court.

«You just have to push through the barrier.»

Tupper started playing when she was 10 after encouragement from her father, a tennis coach.

She travels across the country playing tournaments including the AMTs, which attract top juniors and some of the country’s best players.

«It’s a lot of fun,» she said. «It keeps you fit and you make some really good friends.

«I like the competitive side of it as well.»

Tupper, whose next stop is a tournament in Mackay later this week, said she enjoyed the ups and downs of the tennis circuit.

«You come to a tournament like this and everything is really nice and homely,» she said.

«They have the mayor opening the event, which is pretty cool.

«I would love to be a professional player one day, but that’s a long way away.»

Lismore’s Brendan Moore claimed the men’s singles crown as the tournament, which wrapped up late yesterday afternoon. Casino’s Maddison Morrissey was another Northern Rivers player to shine, claiming the under-14 girls’ singles and doubles titles.

About 150 players from New South Wales and interstate attended the three-day event, which is one of the biggest dates on the region’s annual tennis calendar.

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