Competitors underestimated Ipswich’s champion player
AS A young player, a lot of Ash Barty’s competitors doubted her as she stepped out on to the court.
Opponents weighed up her size and the strength of her shots and thought that she was going to be a pushover.
On more than a few occasions, they walked off in tears.
According to Ipswich tennis coach and administrator Fred Daniel, she was just “too good”.
“I saw her play quite a few years ago when she was playing school tennis,” he said.
“She had a very good tennis head on her even back in those days. Tennis is in the head a lot.
“You’ve got to be able to control the game and you don’t have to hit it hard to do that.
“Most of the ones she played came off the court in tears.”
Mr Daniel didn’t believe Barty’s rise had resulted in an uptick in players locally.
“Anyone that comes through and is doing well encourages the kids to have a bit more of a look at tennis,” he said.
“I’m one that believes that it’s not easy to get to that level. There’s a lot of hard work to do. If the kids want to get there, well that’s fine, you can encourage that.
“Most of the kids you find just really want to play and enjoy the sport. That’s probably as good as any because the more feet on the court, the more likely we are to find a good one.”
But he said Barty’s attitude and work ethic, which shone though even as a youngster, was a great thing to be rubbing off on junior players.
“It’s the way she carries on, the way she handles herself,” he said. “Her little things like ‘the sun’s still going to come up tomorrow’. The kids will eventually, as they get a bit keener, try to imitate the way a player plays.
“It’s more that she’s a damn good example as a tennis player in all aspects.”
Mr Daniel was a good junior player and considered playing full-time in the 1950s.
But he and his family decided not to go down that path to focus on his education, with Mr Daniel going on to become a surveyor.
“There were no dollars in (tennis),” he said.
How times have changed – Barty took home more than $16 million this year in prize money on her way to establishing herself as the world’s top player.