Vitorio Sardinha has achieved what many tennis players his age could only dream about after winning a series of major tournament titles – one which has been more than 50 years in the making.
The former Gunnedah student who is now in his final year at St Joseph’s College in Sydney recently captained his NSW team to victory in the Pizzey Cup – a prestigious national schools tennis championship open to students from year seven to year 12.
It was a challenging lead up to the tournament for Vitorio who hadn’t hit a ball for three weeks due to an earlier trip to Europe with the school for soccer.
But such was the strength of Sardinha’s NSW tennis team, it dropped only 10 matches from a total of 108 played throughout the week-long competition in Canberra.
Highlights from the Pizzey Cup team event included a commanding 13-5 demolition of defending champions Western Australia on the last day of play as well as an 18-0 drubbing of interstate rivals, Queensland.
Vitorio also made the quarter finals of the singles championship, called the Australia Cup, but ironically was defeated by a fellow NSW player in the playoff.
Having team-mates competing in the same quarter final meant for a difficult time for the NSW team supporters.
“I don’t think they could pick who to cheer for,” Vitorio said of the match-up.
The quarterfinal loss was his only upset all tournament, having remained undefeated throughout all his team event matches.
Vitorio’s efforts were rewarded with his presentation of the NSW Player Award and selection in the All Australian Tennis Team.
Although only a merit side, Vitorio said gaining a berth in this 10-man squad had been one of his main ambitions from the outset of the tournament.
“That was my goal from the start,” he said.
“I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.”
Vitorio had also achieved much success as co-captain of the St Joseph’s tennis team which made history when it secured a maiden GPS Tennis Premiership – the college’s first in 51 years since the competition’s inception.
The St Joseph’s team won 13 of the 14 round matches in the GPS season to add the school’s steeped traditions in sport, which traditionally have been rugby.
Despite not having the chance to defend the school’s recent tennis titles, Vitorio was confident the college had the potential to continue the success in future years.
“I’m in my final year but there a couple of good players for the Cup next year,” he said.
“The younger players can see the pathway now, hopefully they can go on with it.”
Providing support throughout his tennis journey have been his parents, Welington and Karoline, and his Gunnedah-based coach, Craig Louis.
Craig would often help with training during the school holidays and has been a big influence on Vitorio’s tennis career since he was six years old.
Another “huge” part of Vitorio’s success has been his fitness and strength coach Maryanne Perkins who has assisted with training since he was young.
Next up on the competition circuit, Vitorio would like to contest the ‘December Showdown’ where the top players from across the country converge on Melbourne Park for a series of matches to decide an Australian champion for each age group.
Vitorio first played at the tournament aged just 14 and placed a respectable sixth place.
He hoped to go better again in 2023 – his final year (under 18) that will be eligible to play in the competition.
Long-term Vitorio hoped to secure a tennis scholarship in the United States and follow in the footsteps of fellow Gunnedah tennis players Aaron Osmond (Ouachita Baptist University, Arkansas) and
Gabby O’Gorman (Pennsylvania State University) who have also achieved success on the US college circuit.