Western Australia's promising young tennis players will soon be able to train on new international-standard clay courts to be built on land next to the Superdrome in Claremont.
Premier Carmen Lawrence said today that $45,000 would be provided from the Sports Lottery Fund for the two courts.
She said that the lack of world-class clay courts had hindered the development of WA's young players and that the new courts would boost their international competitiveness.
"Our promising players will now be able to stay in Perth to train on the type of surface they are likely to play on overseas and interstate," Dr Lawrence said.
The decision to put in clay courts followed recommendations from former international Paul McNamee who had been appointed head coach of the WA Institute of Sport's tennis program.
Mr McNamee described the decision as the most exciting development in WA tennis for years.
"It addresses the disadvantage WA players have had to contend with in the past," he said.
"Only on clay courts can you develop the subtleties of the game and as a surface for teaching the game, clay is well ahead of other surfaces."
The Premier said the WAIS program would bring together WA's most promising young players under the guidance of Mr McNamee.
Although the squad of about six had not been announced, it would include Siobhan Drake-Brockman and James Sekulov - winners of the inaugural Junior Hopman Cup at the Burswood Superdome on December 30.
Mr McNamee said that siting the new courts at the Superdrome would enable players in the WAIS program to mix with other elite athletes as well as allowing immediate access to the sports science and gymnasium facilities.
The courts, on University of WA Tennis Club land, would have an American green clay surface and should be ready for the start of the WAIS program in March.