Tennis ace heads to Melbourne
INJURIES, like outstanding achievements, are easily dealt with when you are 14 and have your prime ahead of you.
Ashleigh Barty is evidence of as much as she prepares to head to Melbourne to make her mark on the tennis world.
The Springfield 14-year-old strained back muscles competing in the Australian Open wildcard playoffs a fortnight ago but it has hasn’t dented her enthusiasm for what lies ahead this summer.
“I should be back in a week or so,” the ever confident Barty said.
She contested the trials to gain some big time experience, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jelena Dokic and Alicia Molik.
But it all ended too soon when she had to withdraw in her second game.
“It was good to be around those kind of people,” Barty said.
“I just wanted that experience.
“I’ll go back next year and see how I go.”
If her back is okay, she will head to Melbourne to try and earn a spot in the Junior Australian Open field.
Barty and her coaches Scott Draper and Jim Joyce decided to avoid the Brisbane International Tournament, beginning on January 2.
While it is impressive to see a 14-year-old playing on a big stage against seasoned pros, Barty is already wise enough to know her own improvement will come from hard work at training, rather than over-exposure at senior level.
“I was going to try and qualify but we decided to do some training and try and work on a few things that needed tidying up,” she said.
“I’ve had a great year and just want to continue that next year.”
That means more of the same, which saw her reach her first semi-final in a professional tournament and a 21-match winning streak that included Australian under-14 and 16 titles.
“My whole game needs working on,” the young teen admitted.
Barty’s goals for 2011 are to earn herself a professional ranking, which means making the main draw of an International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament, and qualifying for a junior grand slam tournament.
There’s a fair chance she will achieve the latter sooner rather than later, in Melbourne, though she is not creating any expectations.
“It’s playing against the best (junior) players in the world so it is going to be very tough,” she said.
“I’m not putting too much pressure on myself.
“It will just be good to see how I go.”