Despite their countries being separated by more than 10,000 kilometers, Australia’s Rinky Hijikata and South Africa’s Philip Barry Henning became close friends thanks to tennis and are now both in Buenos Aires where they will compete at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Rinky Hijikata and Philip Barry Henning both compete in the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) junior circuit. Their coaches regularly exchange opinions and training strategies. Like true friends, Hijikata and Henning decided to share their first training session on court two of the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, the venue for the tennis competition at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Hijikata represents Oceania and is No. 20 in the ITF junior ranking. Hanning is No.66 in the world ranking and won the slot for Africa.
“Everything we’re experiencing is incredible,” said 17-year-old Hanning from Bloemfontein, South Africa.
His friend Hijikata agreed: “The Olympic Youth Village is great. This style of competition, with athletes from all over the world and so many different sports in one place is amazing.”
The Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, founded in 1892, will host the tennis tournaments in Palermo’s Green Park.
"The club is great and the courts are in excellent condition. We saw the central court and we were shocked. I can’t wait for the tournament to start, "said Sydney-born Hijikata.
The two friends are anxiously awaiting the draw that will be held on Friday, October 5, but lament the fact that they cannot play together since regulations for men’s and women’s doubles does not permit pairs to be formed by athletes from different continents.
"We wanted to play doubles together, but we can’t because we’re not from the same geographic region. Maybe next time,” Hijikata said.
The tennis competition at Buenos Aires 2018 will feature 32 women and 32 men in the hunt for medals in the women’s and men’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles events. All players must participate in each event. In the singles tournament, all matches will be played to the best of three sets. There will be a tie break to determine the winner of each set in case of a 6-6 score.