World number one Archie Graham.
World number one Archie Graham. Inga Williams

Ipswich tennis ace in box seat

IMAGINE there was a young, talented Australian tennis player who left their ego behind to become the best in the world.

Mature, despite his success, and dedicated to improving himself and passing on his love of the sport to others.

Ipswich is home to just that man and he's not done yet.

Archie Graham, 22, has grown up playing tennis at the Ipswich District Junior Tennis Association Courts. He is now the number one tennis player with an intellectual disability in the world.

Despite already holding the world number one tag, the young tennis ace said there was still plenty to improve.

"I've still got a fair way to go but I'm getting there," he said.

"I'd like to get my forehand right, Stan and I have been working hard on that.

"I just want to keep improving every part of my game."

Graham discovered his love for tennis while playing on his grandmother's court with his family.

"My grandmother always had the love for tennis and it kept growing through the family," he said.

"My mum played at one stage and my sister and brother, everyone played, so I guess I was born into it."

In January, Archie won the Australian Open for people with an intellectual disability for the fourth time in a row, and the doubles tournament for the second year in a row.

In three months, Graham will travel to the United States to compete in the world championships to defend his number one ranking.

At the same event in Ecuador last year Graham won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events.

Graham said the hot Australian summer had helped prepare him to defend his title.

TERRIFIC TEAM: World number one Archie Graham with coach Stan Cuthbert.
TERRIFIC TEAM: World number one Archie Graham with coach Stan Cuthbert. Inga Williams

"Going to Ecuador last year was the first time I had been overseas," Graham said.

"It was right next to the equator and it was stinking hot.

"We get that kind of heat here and I think I handled it well."

On top of the world championships in June, Graham will also compete at the Queensland Open and later in the year, the NSW Open Championships.

Since his win in Melbourne, Graham has been practicing five days a week at the Ipswich courts where he volunteers to coaches junior players.

Graham owes much of his success to good friend and coach Stan Cuthbert.

"This is my seventh year playing and I've been with the same coach since I started," Graham said.

Cuthbert first met Graham while coaching at the family tennis court in Ipswich and said he recognised his desire to compete early on.

"I used to do a bit of coaching down at Archie's parent's court and that's where we started," Cuthbert said.

"He always wanted to work hard and not very often do you get that determination.

When things don't go right, to be able to come back and keep playing."

Off the court, Cuthbert said the young tennis player showed a maturity second-to-none.

"What impresses me most about Archie is the fact that he's a good sportsman as well as a great player," he said.

"He's always had a fierce desire to improve, he's done very well."

World number one tennis player for people with an intellectual disability Archie Graham. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times
World number one tennis player for people with an intellectual disability Archie Graham. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times Inga Williams


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