Molik to hunt for new recruits
By LEO SCHLINK
ALICIA Molik will join Tennis Australia's biggest recruiting drive in a generation as the sport's administrators attempt to revive the sport.
Sidelined with an inner ear virus, the former world No. 8 will join TA's hunt to find Australia's best young athletes.
The target group is six to 11-year-olds.
"There are a lot of kids out there who are good at sports but who may not have had much exposure to tennis," Molik said. "These kids could have the potential to become great tennis players, but don't yet know it.
"This day is about finding good athletes with an aptitude for tennis."
Molik, who is uncertain of when she will return to competitive ranks, will offer a private hitting session with one of the participants.
The SA right-hander said one of her goals during her sabbatical was to help develop Australian tennis.
TA will target and identify athletes from a non-tennis background as the sport attempts to win back potential champions from cricket, AFL, soccer and swimming.
The idea is the brainchild of TA director of player development Craig Tiley and TA's head of talent and identification Troy Ayres, who has secured Molik's support for the talent drive.
TA already has tennis-based identification programs in place, but the latest initiative signals the beginning of a major push for greater numbers.
The meagre number of Australians with single or double-digit rankings - Lleyton Hewitt, Molik, Sam Stosur and Wayne Arthurs - is indicative of a withered talent base.
Molik wants to help tennis in its plan to challenge Australia's other leading summer sports.
TA will stage its first talent search day on January 20 - in the first week of the showpiece Australian Open - at the Boroondara Tennis Centre, North Balwyn.
Interested athletes can register with TA. The deadline closes at 5pm Monday.
More information can be found at www.tennisaustralia.com.au/talentsearch
Meanwhile, injury concerns remain over a trio of Australian Open stars, led by defending champion Marat Safin, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal.
Safin (knee), Agassi (ankle) and Nadal (foot)are still to declare their fitness ahead of the January 16-29 grand slam. Russian Safin is considered doubtful, while Agassi continues to optimistically train in the U.S. and Nadal is expected in Sydney over the next 48 hours.