No favourites but Velocity feel up to speed
Canberra Velocity team manager Todd Larkham with players Nick Kyrgios and Alun Jones. Photo: Melissa Adams
On paper they're stark underdogs, but don't write off the Canberra Velocity men when they meet ATP Sydney in the final of the NSW/ACT Conference of the Asia Pacific Tennis League in Sydney on Tuesday night.
The Velocity lost 5-1 when the two teams last met, their mix of promising teenagers with a couple of aching, ex-pros proved no match for the touring professionals, who've all ranked in the top-300 in the world.
But Velocity team manager Todd Larkham says rankings only mean so much when it comes to comparing the ACT teens with their Sydney rivals.
''They won't be outclassed, they're ranked way lower, but it's really because they haven't played on the circuit enough to get a [higher] ranking,'' Larkham said.
''Alex Bolt and Nick [Kyrgios] are probably going to end up being better players than these guys we'll play against, but are probably two or three years away from that, so it's going to be highly competitive.''
Bolt and Kyrgios, both AIS scholarship holders, are the Velocity's top two players, but they'll meet the fancied touring professionals, Adam Feeney and Greg Jones.
''We've got a reasonably good chance I think, probably not 50:50, probably a little bit less than that, but I really think that every individual match in the singles we could win,'' Larkham said.
Ex-pro Alun Jones will take another singles spot on his preferred hard court surface, with Larkham to take the final spot if some lingering aches have subsided. The pair rate their prospects after posting some wins in the league after years out of competitive tennis.
''Alun and I have definitely got that level where we can play that top-300 level, it's just whether we can produce it tomorrow having not played that much. But we're definitely a chance,'' Larkham said.
The Velocity women made it through to the final more comfortably than the men, but they will face the Asia-Pacific Tennis Institute Steelers, the team that inflicted on them their only loss in the round-robin competition.
The Velocity will be bolstered by the return of Ashley Keir, Australia's No.6 junior, who retired hurt in their last home tie, and didn't play against the Steelers last Thursday, when there was little separating the teams.
Plenty is on the line in the conference final; the winners go to the national final, to be played at the Australian Open in January.
The final tie will be streamed live on the Tennis NSW website from 6.30pm.