2018 Launceston International: legionnaires, literature and Luczak

SOME HEROES DO WEAR CAPES: Launceston International winner Marc Polmans is setting a perfect example for kids across the country. Picture: Paul Scambler
SOME HEROES DO WEAR CAPES: Launceston International winner Marc Polmans is setting a perfect example for kids across the country. Picture: Paul Scambler

Lleyton Hewitt was the be-all and end-all of Australian tennis for much of the early 2000s. 

At junior tournaments across the country the extent of his influence could be measured by the amount of players wearing their caps backwards – a Hewitt trademark and the closest thing you could get to being punk-rock in tennis at the time.

But since his retirement the sport has lacked an obvious headwear trendsetter.

Several top-10 players including Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alexander Zverev have been enthusiastic exponents of the headband, while Sam Stosur continues to run with the visor – all pretty standard tennis headwear.    

Enter Marc Polmans.

Known for covering all the angles from the back of the court, the 2018 Launceston International champion also covers all the angles with his choice of headwear – the much underrated legionnaires cap. 

With a robust peak at the front and a long flappy curtain at the back, Polmans not only protects himself from the hot summer sun but also sets an exceptional example for young tennis players Australia-wide who may have otherwise grown up into the Hewitt backwards-cap legacy.

It’s a big ask to be charged with making the legionnaires hat cool again, but parents Australia-wide will be cheering Polmans every step of the way. 

PLAYING AND READING BETWEEN THE LINES: Queenslander Kaylah McPhee is a keen reader on and off the court. Picture: Scott Gelston

PLAYING AND READING BETWEEN THE LINES: Queenslander Kaylah McPhee is a keen reader on and off the court. Picture: Scott Gelston

PASSING THE TIME

Injury timeouts in tennis are always a bit of a bore, so it’s always lovely to see when the players agree.

Late in the final set of Queenslander Kaylah McPhee’s first round match against Patty Schnyder, the Swiss former world no.7 called time for blister treatment.

Instead of staring intensely into space like you see most players do on TV, McPhee pulled out an orange paperback from her tennis bag and began to read – apparently she’s also been known to read magazines on court.

Unfortunately for McPhee, the book wasn’t Zoe Hives’ yet-to-be-published foolproof manual on how to beat Patty Schnyder, and she conceded the next two games and consequently the match.

ON THE RISE 

The quality of players on show at the Launceston International seems to be getting stronger every year.

Past and present top-100 ranked players shared the draws with the newest crop of young talent, throwing together names like Schnyder and Polmans and Robson and Jasika.

Not to mention Granollers and Hives, who could presumably team up to form not just a fearsome mixed doubles combination, but also some sort of delicious honey-glazed breakfast concoction. 

But don’t take my word for it, ask two-time Launceston International-winning coach and former world no. 64 Peter Luczak.

“The strength is getting deeper every year,” he said.

“Two or three years ago there were a fair few byes in the qualifying but now the qualifying draw was full… the quality of the field is as strong as anywhere now.”

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

Food is always the key – especially in Tasmania.

Organisers and promoters have done a brilliant job building the tournament from the ground up and the next thing it needs is more delicious food. 

Hats off – legionnaires, naturally – to whoever organised for the increased food options for Sunday’s finals and may there be plenty more of it.

Tennis Eat Street, anyone?