'Little Rafa' serves up love

Nine-year-old tennis star Ralph Armstrong, at Sawtell courts.
Nine-year-old tennis star Ralph Armstrong, at Sawtell courts. Trevor Veale

HE'S a pint-sized version of his hero, displaying a killer forehand, quickness and a love for clay courts.

It's no exaggeration that Ralph Armstrong is already starting to show the potential to be the Coffs Coast's own Rafael Nadal.

Nicknamed 'Little Rafa' after his love of the Spanish tennis superstar, the youngster recently took out the Under-10 division of the Sawtell Clay Court Championships.

Ralph's mother Maria Armstrong can't believe how quickly her son's tennis skills have developed.

"Ralph loves his tennis, he is always excited to play and will sit for hours watching his hero, Rafael Nadal, on TV," Armstrong said.

"He practises with his brother Nathan and has to have all the same equipment as Nadal.

"I was always worried that he would have trouble getting the ball over the net because he is so short, but he plays so well."

The Grade 4 student at Mary Help of Christians Primary School was a standout performer in his division at the clay court championships and said the win was one of his best.

"The competition was really hard and all the players were really good," Ralph said.

"I was happy to win because of how tough it was."

Training 10 hours a week at the Sawtell Tennis Club under head coach Eli Bayliss, Armstrong is aspiring to one day play like his idol.

"I love how he (Nadal) plays the game and that is how I try to play," he said. "I like Nadal's character and his bright clothes and he always has fun.

"Hopefully one day I can play at all the big competitions like Nadal and maybe even win one."

Despite his young age Armstrong may reach his goal of playing on Paris's famous clay courts sooner rather than later.

"Ralph has qualified for the Australian finals of a competition called Once Upon A Time in Tennis and the winner of gets to play in Paris," Maria Armstrong said.

"He will have to play in Cairns later this year against some of the best players in his age group.

"He is only young so as long as he has fun that is all that matters."

While 'Little Rafa' is finding success on the court, Ralph is just enjoying playing the game he loves. "I always look forward to the next time I can play," he said.

"Tennis is all about fun and making new friends and that is why I love it."

Topics:  sawtell tennis

Burnouts' roaring success at Carina

Carina Speedway Bundy Burnouts event.

Organisers pleased with first Bundy Burnouts

Men's Shed to open soon

MEN'S SHED: Rob Miller and Col Driver at the new Gayndah Men's Shed.

The Gayndah Men's Shed is ready to open

Local Partners

Watch out for river work if you are on the Burnett

BOATIES using the reaches of the Burnett River near Strathdee's boat ramp may notice a barge undertaking work

Men's Shed to open soon

MEN'S SHED: Rob Miller and Col Driver at the new Gayndah Men's Shed.

The Gayndah Men's Shed is ready to open

Former Split Enz front man Tim Finn finds new niche

Singer Tim Finn has written the music for theatre production Ladies in Black.

Musician finds his way to theatre

Workshops to show you how to bring puppets to life

STRING SECTION: Two puppet-making workshops will be held in the region.

Ever wanted to know how to make puppets?

Ruby Mills misses out on spot in Mel B's underdog team

Bundaberg singer Ruby Mills pictured during the three-seat challenge on The X Factor.

BUNDABERG singer officially out of contention for singing show.

Top floor teams take out The Block's terrace week

Kim and Chris pictured on their winning outdoor terrace in a scene from The Block.

RIVALS Kim and Chris and Julia and Sasha tie in final week of work.

Bob Dylan slammed as 'arrogant' for Nobel silence

Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan.

Singer the controversial winner of literature Nobel

Shannen Doherty reveals fear of dying in post on chemo

Actor Shannen Doherty shared this image of her lying in a hospital bed after a chemotherapy session.

Actor has been fighting cancer since 2015

Eddie Redmayne's stage fright on latest Harry Potter film

Actor Eddie Redmayne stars in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Actor felt like kid again when he got to film with a wand

Salma Hayek: 'Trump planted story because I turned him down'

Actor Salma Hayek is the latest woman who says U.S presidential nominee Donald Trump acted inappropriately.

Salma Hayek latest woman to accuse Trump of misconduct

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track