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Ahead of the Australian Open, Sonny Rennison is Aiming to be the First Ballkidin a Wheelchair

Story edited from
The Age

Even at the age of five, Sonny Rennison was clear that anyone can and should be able to participate fully in sport, “even if they’re not in a wheelchair”.

11-year-old Sonny Rennison is a junior wheelchair tennis champion who's ranked 21 in the world and is on track to be the first wheelchair ballkid at an Australian Open

“If they’re standing up, if they have a disability … anyone can play anything,” he told the cameras at a VicSport breakfast six years ago, looking and sounding like the most optimistic boy in the world.

Now 11, Sonny is taking his early childhood mission statement further, spearheading a campaign to allow young people like him – tennis-mad and avid players – access to one of the most exciting roles a junior could dream of: ballkid at the Australian Open.

The junior wheelchair tennis champion has been trained in Melbourne by expert ballkid assessor Diana Sutterby to be agile and able at ball collection and aiding players using a custom-designed ball-collection device developed with funding from Australian Open partner Mastercard.

During the pilot training program, Sonny was put through his paces in a simulation match by tennis inclusion advocate and former pro Alicia Molik, who says Sonny’s skills and speed are comparable to any other ballkid.

She and four-time Australian Open wheelchair doubles champion Heath Davidson are backing Sonny’s dream of joining his peers on the main courts at the grand slam.

“Sonny radiates energy. He’s part of the National High Performance at Tennis Australia in Melbourne, so he has massive ambitions like every other kid in the high-performance team, and many kids around the world,” said Molik, who rose to world No.6 during her career.

“He wants to be a ballkid as much as every single other one. In fact, his passion might even exceed those.”

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