Mathew Donald caused quite a stir when he won the under-12 title at the North Island tennis championships held in Wellington.

It is because Mathew is just 9 years old and he beat boys two years older than himself to take the title.

Beating the big boys is becoming something of a habit for Mathew, who has a single-minded passion for tennis that is sadly lacking among most young Kiwis.

No doubt having a professional tennis coach for a dad in Mount Tennis Club's Andy Donald helps, but Mathew's success is mostly due to his work ethic and attitude.


"He is Year 4 and is competing with older kids," proud dad Andy said. "He still has another two years in that age group. He won it fairly comprehensively. He puts in a lot of hard work and he is passionate about it so it is quite good to get the rewards of doing well.

"At this age it is not all about the winning but about playing good tennis and making sure the game is developing."

Donald spent 15 years coaching in Germany and is a highly regarded elite coach who spends time coaching in Eastern Europe.

He is realistic about the chances of ever producing world class players in New Zealand, especially when the one we do have in Marina Erakovic is treated so poorly by the sport's governing body.

"Here locally in interclub, the numbers have come back a little," Donald said. "Two or three years ago we had substantially more teams. It seems kids want to do other things these days than play tennis."

Mathew says he wants to be a top class player like his favourite Andy Murray: "I practise for an hour or more nearly every day. It is fun. I like winning and playing tournaments."