At 15 years of age, ACT rising tennis star Charlie Camus is touted as the next big thing in Australian tennis – and with good reason.
Following recent tournaments he is now ranked number 85 in the world for under 18s.
Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has invited him to Germany as an “0range boy” for the team – an honour bestowed on promising junior players and a very telling sign of his potential.
Tennis legend Todd Woodbridge has thrown his support behind the young talent, saying Charlie’s “one of the best in his age group in the world” and on an encouraging trajectory.
But although Charlie acknowledges it’s all evidence “the hard work is slowly paying off”, he’s not one to get ahead of himself.
“There’s a long road ahead,” he says.
“I just try to focus on the process and what it’s going to take to achieve my objectives… I’m focusing on the goals I have for five or even 10 years down the track.”
In the glamorous and high-pressure world of elite sports, Charlie knows as well as any that junior athletes tread a fine line between staying motivated and grounded. But both are critical to a healthy career.
“It does become pretty challenging being on the road for long periods of time, especially if you’re not winning,” he says.
“In tennis you’re going to lose most of the time; you have to get used to that.
“It can also get lonely. But again, you learn to deal with it.”
Being a junior athlete comes with its potential pitfalls, one of the most obvious being the balance between academic and sporting demands.
Until the end of last term, Charlie was attending Telopea Park but has now started distance education.
“It hasn’t been easier per se but it has given me the lenience to do my schooling while on the road,” he says.
“That’s been helpful because honestly, I was struggling to keep up.”
Traditional schooling aside, life as a junior sportsman clearly requires adaptability and deviation from the norms.
With so much time spent outside the usual school systems, Charlie says he doesn’t have many close friends in Canberra, instead forming friendships with fellow tennis players on the circuit.
He also doesn’t attend parties or do “any of the stuff 15-year-olds often do” but says he’s not fussed.
“I know what sacrifices I need to make and what they’ll achieve in the long run.”
Although travelling can sometimes get tiring, “especially when you’re overseas for months at a time”, he says the positives far outweigh these challenges.
“I enjoy travelling. I like taking in the world, seeing new places and cities, meeting new people, experiencing all the different cultures in the rest of the world.”
It’s a fitting frame of mind for the up-and-comer, given he has just scored sponsorship from Capital Hotel Group.
Deco Hotel general manager Herman Lee says for a group that has always been a staunch supporter of local talent, Charlie is an obvious candidate for sponsorship.
“Capital Hotel Group has long been a supporter and sponsor of Tennis ACT and Charlie is an up-an-coming player with a lot of positive influences around him, including Todd Woodbridge,” he says.
“We’re very happy to be able to throw our support behind Charlie because achieving his goals will not be easy. Help to cover the costs of travel, coaching, equipment and so on is crucial in giving young sports people a good start.
“Charlie will be really good for the sport and for Canberra.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Tennis ACT CEO Kim Kachel.
“Charlie is a proud Canberran and an exciting prospect with a bright future – he’s represented the ACT and Australia admirably,” he says.
“To win four ITF events in Europe having only just turned 15 is an incredible achievement and shows where he is at on the global stage.
“He’s since backed this up by winning an additional ITF title in Mornington, and some solid runner-up performances see him at number 85 in the world juniors currently.
“We look forward to seeing his journey continue.”
Show your support and make a donation on Charlie’s fundraising page.