Elijah Dikkenberg could be forgiven for pinching himself after enjoying the experience of a lifetime at the 2019 Australian Open.
From taking on some of the nation’s best juniors in front of a packed stadium to meeting some of his favourite tennis heroes, there wasn’t much the Wagga 10-year-old missed out on.
Named as both a Hot Shots coin toss ambassador and player in the under 10s tournament, Elijah spent much of last week sprinting across Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and most of Melbourne Park’s legendary surfaces.
“He honestly had the most amazing time in Melbourne, it was so great for him,” mum Jane Dikkenberg said.
“He got to play against some of the best age group players, the best four from each state, and he did such a good job.”
Elijah certainly impressed with racquet in hand, winning five of his seven singles encounters before partnering with young Queenslander Cody Atkinson in the doubles.
It proved a handy combination with Elijah and Cody winning six of their seven matches, leaving Lij as one of the most successful players overall.
“He just loved playing out there and it was such a great experience for him,” Dikkenberg said.
As a Hot Shots coin toss ambassador, Elijah was also handed the duties during the men’s singles quarter final between Milos Raonic and Lucas Pouille, meeting both players for a photo opportunity to cap off a big day on television.
If this wasn’t enough, he then was given the chance to meet Australia’s entire Davis Cup squad, including the likes of rising cult hero Alex Di Minaur, John Millman, Jordan Thompson, Thanasi Kokkinakis, former Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt, Alex Bolt, Matthew Ebden and Alexei Popyrin.
One last highlight remained and it was arguably the best of all – a meet and greet with tennis legend and Australian Open finalist Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard spent time with Elijah and his fellow ambassadors before giving them front seats to a private training session at Melbourne Park.
“I think him getting the chance to see what it’s like on the (tennis) circuit and get a taste for it has really inspired him,” Dikkenberg said.
Elijah’s breakout 2018 saw him sweep the Temora juniors tournament, impress at the NSW championships and then, earlier this year, play at the Sydney International.