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Poulos a star in the making

Former tour professional Alun Jones says it's not too early to predict nine-year-old Annerly Poulos could be a future tennis star.

He predicted it three years ago when he unexpectedly stumbled across her talent, when Poulos was just six.

Poulos has caught the attention of national talent scouts, excelling at last week's invitational camp in Canberra for the best girls in Australia aged 10 and under.

She may have been a year younger than most of the players chosen to participate, but Tennis Australia's talent search and development manager Kim Kachel described Poulos as a ''standout''.

''Being a bit younger, she has definitely matched it and exceeded [the older girls],'' Kachel said.

''She is only nine, so it is tough to tell, but she is putting her best foot forward, she is giving herself every opportunity.''


Jones, who reached a career-high world ranking of 123, first spotted Poulos at a talent identification camp for Canberra kids three years ago. Poulos wasn't attending the camp but was hitting with her elder sister on a neighbouring court.

''She wasn't even really hitting, she was just feeding the ball for her sister,'' Jones said. ''Her older sister was good, hitting a good ball, but I was just quite amazed by her feeding skills. At six she had something special, just an absolute standout to what I've seen before. I don't think it is too early [to tell], you get a pretty good idea at that age how talented they are.''

Last week's camp involved physical testing as well as on-court training, Poulos matching her elder peers in both departments.

''It's her athleticism and strength for a nine-year-old girl that sets her apart,'' Jones said. ''Normally a year is a big difference at that age, but physically she was probably the best athlete.''

Poulos, a student at St Greogory's Primary School, now trains weekdays after school with Jones and another former tour professional Damian Ward.