By Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, July 5 (Xinhua) -- A team of Australian students currently in China for the Belt and Road Chengdu-Australian Open University Tennis Championship told Xinhua that the rise of women's world number one Ashleigh Barty is helping to inspire their campaign.
"It's great to see a fellow Australian having so much success, she's a very deserving person," said University of Queenland coach Josh Barrenechea.
With seven other university teams from China, Japan, Singapore, England and Israel set to take part in the Sichuan-based tournament, the six-day round-robin style competition will see the winning squad handed an all-expenses paid trip to the Australian Open in 2020.
This is only the second time Chengdu has held the tournament, which began in partnership with Tennis Australia to showcase the Chinese city's vibrant, sports-loving culture.
Although Chengdu is widely known as a transport hub and a center for science, technology, commerce, trade and finance, the city is also famous for its spicy food and status as the panda capital of China.
But while it's all business for the Australian team, Barrenechea said the squad has had a chance to do some sightseeing.
"We have had one player who's been to China before, but for the rest of the team it is their first time, so everyone was extremely excited to come to Chengdu," he said.
After some hard-fought matches on Thursday, the University of Queensland side went down to Shanghai's Jiaotong University 4-1.
"The competition is very high - matches have been tough and well fought out," Barrenechea said.
"But it is fantastic to see China pushing tennis. The level of players is growing."
The tournament is set to conclude on July 7.