There was no podium for the awards ceremony. No TV cameras or microphones from the local media. Just Mildura (Australia) Mayor Glenn Milne handing the winner’s cup to Sam Groth, ranked No. 230 in the world, after the big-serving Aussie dismantled fellow countryman James Lemke 6-1, 6-4 in the finals of the Mildura Grand Tennis International yesterday afternoon. Such is life at the bottom rung of men’s professional tennis. The tournament, an ITF Futures event, was played on the lush grass courts of the Mildura Lawn Tennis Club and featured players primarily ranked outside the top 200. Players who mostly have to play the qualifiers on the ATP Challenger circuit — the next tier up — just to get into the main draw. Until last May, Groth was a journeyman pro with a big serve. That was when he cracked an ace at a Challenger event in South Korea registering an astounding 163 mph (263 kph) on the radar gun. Now he’s still known as a journeyman, but also the guy with the fastest serve in men’s professional tennis. The 25-year-old Groth wants more than just that kind of notoriety. With the win, the 6-foot-5, 230 pound Melbourne resident will improve his ranking next Monday to about No. 203, just seven spots shy of his career-high mark. Groth reached No. 196 in late January. The title was his seventh Futures crown and third since March. Groth also won the doubles title, his third of the year, with John-Patrick Smith. “Anytime you have a win is great. To win the singles and doubles in the same week is a good feeling,” Groth said. “I got on top early. I held serve, then broke his first serve. I had break points at 4-0 and ended up winning the set 6-1. I got a break again early in the second and carried on from there. I served well all week.” Groth is seeded seventh at this week’s Sydney Challenger and looking for his first title on the Challenger circuit. Success at this level awards more ranking points, and that is what Groth needs if he intends to move up the ladder.