Slammin’ Sam drops the tempo – for a day

AS Sam Groth strolled around Wodonga Tennis Centre on Sunday, one budding tennis player turned to his mate and asked: “Does he really serve at 150 miles an hour?”

ALL SMILES: Oscar Moodley, Cooper McIntosh, Josh Still and Harry Grigg caught up with Sam Groth at Wodonga Tennis Centre on Sunday. Picture: MARK JESSER

It was a fair question.

The laidback country boywas in no hurry as hecasually stopped for a chat here and there before finding some shade to signautographs.

“It’s great to see a goodturnout ofkids considering the heat,” Groth said.

“Hopefully we have our next Davis Cup and Fed Cup player out there.

“It would be nice to find a few more kids from the country as you don’t see it too often.”

About 180 youngsters braved the searing heat to come for a hit at Groth’s camp with Griffith particularly well represented.

“It’s great to get back here,” he said.

“I hadn’tseen the new courts before and they are fantastic.

“I wish we had them when I was growing up.”

Groth rocketed to number 53 in the world before suffering a serious foot injury in October.

But it hasn’t been all bad news for the Narrandera-born star who was a surprise winner of theNewcombe Medal, Australia’s top annual prize, last month.

Groth won two second-tier Challenger events, in Taipei and Manchester, and helped Australia to the Davis Cup semi-finals.

He also reached the third-round of a major for the first time at the Australian Open.

Groth repeated the feat at Wimbledon, losing to Roger Federer in four sets.

“It was nice,” he said.

“For us it’s the biggest award in Australian tennis.

“It’s differentto producing results on the court, but to be honoured in front of the tennis community is terrific.”

Along with outstanding performance, the medal also includes a ‘best ambassador’ component.

“I had a great year on the court but off the court you try and give something back as well,” he said.

“Once you get to a certain level you should do that.

“As tennis players I feel that is part of the job.

“’Newk’ is a legend of the game so it was great to win the medal named after him.”

Groth is pleased with his recovery following foot surgery and will launch his comeback in the Brisbane International in early January.

He will then turn his attention to the Australian Open.

“My training is going well,” he said.

“I feel as thoughI’m on schedule.

“I’ll head up to Brisbane a week early to prepare.

“I made the quarters last year and hopefully I can go a little deeper.

“It’s one of my favourite tournaments.”

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