Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH

DE­FEND­ING cham­pion Tom Fan­cutt is a su­pe­rior player to 12 months ago but that makes him no less wary of a tal­ent­laden field at this week­end’s Ing­ham Open.

The Bris­bane- based player has risen to No. 36 in Aus­tralia and re­turns to North Queens­land look­ing to take back- to­back ti­tles at the Aus­tralian Money Tour­na­ment.

The 20- year- old had a suc­cess­ful swing through the North Queens­land AMT last year, win­ning at Ing­ham, Mount Isa and Innisfail as well as mak­ing fi­nals in Townsville and Cairns.

This year he will play at Ing­ham and Townsville to try and earn the cash to help him get back over­seas to play in South Korea and Chi­nese Taipei.

Fan­cutt spent six weeks in Asia play­ing at Fu­tures tour­na­ments in Guam, Ja­pan and Hong Kong through May and June, mak­ing a semi- fi­nal on clay in Ja­pan, which helped him raise his world rank­ing by 500 places, up to 890th.

“It’s def­i­nitely been a good 12 months,” he said.

“I didn’t have a pro­fes­sional rank­ing when I played the ( north Queens­land) tour­na­ments last year and my rank­ing is now 894 in the world.

“So 12 months, I’m a dif­fer- ent player to what I was last year. It was my first real stint over­seas play­ing pro­fes­sional tour­na­ments and I had a bit of suc­cess in Ja­pan, mak­ing a semi- fi­nal and I im­proved my rank­ing about 500 spots.

“It was a big ex­pe­ri­ence learn­ing from the top guys and see­ing what they’re do­ing.”

De­spite all his ex­pe­ri­ence, Fan­cutt wasn’t ex­pect­ing a walkover when he comes up against a tough en­try list at the Ing­ham Open.

The eight seeded play­ers are all in­side the top- 275 in Aus­tralia and in­clude Townsville prod­ucts Brad Clews, David Sin­gle and Ryan Sch­wab as well as New Zealan­der Howard Ho and Cairns’ Rhan Bur­ton, who is cur­rently play­ing in the US col­lege sys­tem.

“It’s re­ally strong and all the guys up north that made seeds are re­ally strong,” Fan­cutt said.

“You’ve even got Sam Brad­shaw float­ing around who is not even seeded.

“There are def­i­nitely not go­ing to be any easy matches up there.”

De­fend­ing women’s cham­pion Tay­lor Dou­glas is also back in a strong sin­gles field and is top seed for the event.

Pic­ture: TOM LEE

STIFF COM­PE­TI­TION: Tom Fan­cutt may have risen to No. 36 in Aus­tralia but he’s not let­ting his ego run wild as he pre­pares for this week­end’s Ing­ham Open.

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