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Sporting Schools School Yard to Sports Star: Ash Barty

Ash Barty

Image: Australian tennis star Ash Barty has found the thrill of tennis again after taking almost two years off. Photo supplied by FILA. 

Ash Barty is currently Australia's number 1 tennis player (male and female) with a world ranking of 19. She was a standout junior, winning the Wimbledon junior title in 2011 at the age of 15. She made her WTA debut the following year and has since gone on to make the third round of the Australian and US Opens.

Playing with compatriot Casey Dellacqua, Barty has also reached the women's doubles final in each of the four Grand Slams.

In September 2014, she took a break from tennis and switched to cricket, playing with the Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League. She took up tennis again in 2016.

Proud of her Indigenous heritage, she was recently named a National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia. Before competing in Australia’s Fed Cup tie in Wollongong, Ash talks to Sporting Schools about her early days playing sport.

What’s your funniest sporting memory at school? 

I remember having a school tennis lesson when I was 7 years old and having arrived early, I had some time to waste. We didn’t have any tennis balls so I decided it would be a good idea to try and hit some rocks! After breaking my string and not being able to play in the lesson, I learned pretty quickly to never hit rocks around again. 

How did you get into tennis?

My sisters both played netball but I decided it wasn’t for me… I met tennis coach Jim Joyce when I was 4 years old and started to spend time at his club in West Brisbane. I loved playing. Jim was fantastic and really looked after me as a young kid, I have him to thank for getting involved in tennis. 

Did you play any other sports growing up? 

Yes, I played netball with my sisters. They were much better than me so I swapped to tennis! 

Do you remember your first tournament win? How did it feel? 

My first WTA tournament win in singles was at the 2017 Malaysian Open. It was an incredible feeling - a combination of excitement, relief and pride. Hopefully I can win a few more titles but the first win is something I will always remember. 

You stopped playing tennis for a time. What brought you back?

I was very young when I started on the tennis tour and after a few years I needed a break. If you aren’t enjoying something then it is ok to have some time off to reassess your goals and decide what is best for you. After a break and trying other things, I missed tennis and decided that I wanted to come back. Life away from home is still hard but I have learnt a lot about how to manage the travel and enjoy what a life on tour entails - I know I am very lucky to do what I do!

What are your top three tips to children about playing sport?

Try a few different sports to see what you most enjoy, surround yourself with great people (teammates, coaches, mentors etc.) and always make sure you are having fun!

Sporting Schools is a $160 million Australian Government initiative to get more children playing more sport, before, during and after school. Want to run a Tennis program at your school? Check out all the details on the Tennis Australia page.

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