MOST junior surfers would quake in their boardies at the prospect of meeting Joel Parkinson or Taj Burrow in a first-round heat.
Not Cooper Chapman. The North Narrabeen teenager, a wild card entrant into the men's competition at this weekend's inaugural Australian Open of Surfing in Manly, is relishing the opportunity to go one-on-one with two of the country's reigning surf kings.
''I'm sort of confident enough in my surfing at the moment that I don't really need to freak out,'' Chapman said. ''It's just going to be another heat, really.''
The 17-year-old has reason to feel confident. He is leading the Association of Surfing Professionals' Australasia Pro Junior Series after three rounds and goes into today's junior men's competition with the home ground advantage.
''It's amazing [to be surfing in Manly], it gives me a great opportunity to show them what I've got because everyone will be down here watching the comp,'' he said.
''Everyone'' includes his main backer Hurley, the surfwear brand that is also one of the Open's headline sponsors. Chapman is keen to impress his benefactors.
''I can't wait to show them what I can do and make a good mark for myself,'' he said.
Chapman is fresh out of high school. He completed his HSC at Narrabeen Sports High School last year, scoring in the mid-80s in all his subjects, which he said he was happy with.
Instead of going to university, Chapman is giving himself three years to focus on surfing and make the Association of Surfing Professionals men's tour.
He is being coached by Barton Lynch, a northern beaches surfing personality and the Open's contest director, and was one of 10 junior surfers to receive a Surfing Australia scholarship this year.
The extra funding has paid for Surfing Australia's sport science manager, Jeremy Sheppard, to accompany Chapman to every ASP event.
''It's pretty new for me, that element,'' Chapman said. ''He's got a lot of great input. Before a heat he settles your mind and just helps you focus.''
Sheppard will be valuable today if Chapman draws with Parkinson, the world No.2, or Burrow, a perennial crowd favourite and tour veteran, in his first heat.
The pair are the main drawcards for the nine-day event, along with another North Narrabeen surfer, Laura Enever, the world No.10, and the South African Jordy Smith.
The Open, which also includes a skateboard competition and live music, is modelled on the US Open of Surfing, a 50-year-old competition held at Huntington Beach in California every year.