Salamander Bay tennis talent Sahla McElwaine a star on the rise

TOP FORM: Salamander Bay resident Sahla McElwaine, 10, has had a top year on the tennis court. This month she will compete in two state championships. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts
TOP FORM: Salamander Bay resident Sahla McElwaine, 10, has had a top year on the tennis court. This month she will compete in two state championships. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Sahla McElwaine has tried her hand at many sports but it is tennis that has claimed the 10 year old’s heart.

The young Salamander Bay resident first picked up a racquet at the age of 6.

Since then she has tried, done well in and ultimately given up cheerleading, gymnastics, dancing, netball, boxing and swimming – just to name a few activities – because of her dedication to tennis.

“I’ve been doing it so long, I can’t give it up,” Sahla said when asked why she has stuck with the sport. “I like competing and I like winning. I’m pretty good at tennis.”

The results Sahla has been achieving this year alone are a testament to her natural athleticism and dedication to the sport.

Since the start of this year Sahla has racked up respectable results and many wins on Tennis NSW’s junior tour and Super 10’s, Tennis Australia’s NSW Country Junior Championships, in the Junior Development Series (JDS) and NSW Primary Schools Sports Association competitions.

TALENTED: Sahla McElwaine, 10, has found success on the tennis court this year, winning championships and tournaments in and out of school. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

TALENTED: Sahla McElwaine, 10, has found success on the tennis court this year, winning championships and tournaments in and out of school. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

When asked what her favourite moment of the year has been so far, Sahla said playing for her JDS region of Northumberland, which stretches from Gosford to Bulahdelah and out to Scone, in the NSW State Teams Championship.

“It was a chance to play team tennis instead of individual,” she said. “It was different.”

Ranked number one in Northumberland for under-10s, Sahla played the top seeds from other JDS regions across NSW and ACT at the two-day championship.

She won four from six singles games and, paired with Northumberland’s number two seed, won five from six doubles games.

Sahla also qualified for the JDS under-10 girls state final which will be held in Sydney on November 30.

The young tennis star said thinks she will “go pretty good” in the individual state final.

Between February and July Sahla played in 10 JDS tournaments. She won three tournaments in under-10s, three our of four in under-12s and reached the playoffs for two out of three in under-14s.

From this, she was invited to play in the JDS Champion of Champions tournament where, playing in under-10s, she won all five of her matches.

Sahla McElwaine.

Sahla McElwaine.

This month’s JDS championship will immediately follow the 2018 NSW Schoolboys and Schoolgirls Tennis Championship on November 22, where Sahla will represent Soldiers Point Public School. Last year Sahla was a semi-finalist in the schoolgirls championship.

“I’m hoping to go better this year,” she said.

Each week Sahla attends a training squad at Tennis Central in Belmont with coaches Michael Watts and Laurence Hall, is in the gym for an hour at Newcastle’s Youth Academy and hits the Soldiers Point tennis courts with her father, Clint McElwaine on Thursdays and Fridays.

“We’re very proud of Sahla,” McElwaine said. “She always gives 120 per cent no matter what she puts her effort in to.”

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