Serving up his own success
Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School student Kurt Amey is turning heads on the tennis court. Carly Thomas speaks to him about his wins.
Kurt Amey is one to watch. A 12-year-old who is rising through New Zealand's tennis ranks, he has put himself forward as a class leader and is quick to smile, too.
Kurt started playing tennis at primary school two years ago, and his natural ability was noticed straight away. He started being coached by Kurt McNamara, who says the youngster has put Manawatu tennis back on the map.
"You don't generally get kids with ability like that and he has a very good attitude. He's a grinder and gives everything a go."
Kurt knows he's good and he works hard at getting better because he says he just really enjoys it. "I do like sport, any sport and I am definitely competitive. I set goals and I train hard."
In his first tournament with not much training, Kurt came first. He then tagged along with his brother, Logan Amey, who McNamara also coached, to the Waikato Boys' Junior Tournament. He won that, too. He then went a step further to the Queensland Clay Court Championships. It was his first time playing on clay and he was up against the Australian champ for his age division.
"I came second in the singles and doubles. It was different playing on clay, a lot slower and you need to be really fit. I got better as I went along."
McNamara says he gave it a good shot and the boy he was up against had been training 20 hours a week, as opposed to Kurt's three to four hours.
"He has a mental toughness that other kids don't have and just keeps going at it even when things were against him."
McNamara was behind taking a New Zealand Development Squad last year to New Caledonia, where he says Kurt gained vital skills playing opponents from Japan, Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Kurt has since won the Central Junior Championships in Wellington and in the last week of his school holidays he won the Manawatu Open. He also gained sponsorship through tennis racket company Head.
He is the one to beat and McNamara says Kurt has set up a pathway for younger kids coming through.
Kurt says he is also getting stronger and fitter after being asked to join UCOL's racket sports strengthening and conditioning course.
"It's great and I am learning different skills and working on my fitness and strength with special exercises."
At 12, Kurt has a long-term goal in place; to gain a scholarship to an American university and to keep playing tennis and of course "get better and better".