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Andrew Thomas > the next new tennis star for Cyprus September 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.

Sydney-born junior defects to Cyprus > Tennis Australia is ruing the defection of local junior Andrew Thomas to Cyprus.

andrew_thomas.jpg  Although Thomas is still listed on the ITF website as an Australian, he has been playing the junior boys’ singles tournament at the US Open in New York this week as a Cypriot.

Thomas has advanced to the final 16 and was to play the No.11 seed Thomas Fabbiano for a place in the quarter-finals. While TA wishes the 17-year-old well, behind the scenes there are serious doubts he has made the best choice.

“While we respect his decision, Tennis Australia is extremely disappointed Andrew Thomas has chosen to play for Cyprus,” chief executive Steve Wood said.

Thomas, who was born and raised in Sydney, is a former world under-14 champion and was to be offered a full-time scholarship worth $125,000 by the Australian Institute of Sport for coaching, accommodation and travel costs.

His mother, Coral, was born in Cyprus and his father Tom’s grandparents are also from the island. Thomas has previously been a hitting partner for Cyprus’ greatest tennis export, 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis.

Wood said Baghdatis and the Cyprus Tennis Federation had provided funding for Thomas’ US Open campaign since TA had turned down his request for a cash hand-out. “Cash hand-outs do not support the philosophy of our program, which is about resourcing environments and funding opportunities,” Wood said. “In Andrew’s instance those opportunities have included and, form permitting, would have continued to include, international tours and playing with representative teams.”

Thomas is ranked 27 on the ITF rankings. There are four Australians in the top 25 but two, Greg Jones and Brydan Klein, move into the seniors next year when they become 19.

Thomas told Sydney radio station 2GB that playing Davis Cup for Cyprus was his aim. “I’m seeing Marcos now in world group two and looking to get in world group in the next couple years,” he said. “I like the environment in Cyprus; small community, nice people. I love it there, so I will probably head back there. Also Tennis Australia have not been supporting me as much in the last couple years, so I decided to play for Cyprus.”

TA spokesman Darren Pearce said in Melbourne that there had been “substantial amounts of money” spent on Thomas’ career, but it would not seek any recovery of funds. Three Australian juniors are into the final 16 at Flushing Meadows.

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