February 2nd, 2009
WITH a cheeky smile and a wide-eyed innocence Sarah Tomic -- 10-year-old sister of new Aussie teenage tennis sensation Bernard -- yesterday stared into a crystal tennis ball and predicted she will be No.1 in the world.
Inspired by the deeds of her 16-year-old brother, who became a prime time prince at the Australian Open last week as he surged into the second round, the latest product of the Tomic tennis factory sees no boundaries to her ambition.
Ranked No.1 in Australia for her age, the big-hitting, serve-volleying state representative is -- according to father and mentor John Tomic -- already better than her brother was at the same age.
Not bad for a girl who only picked up a racquet with anything more than a passing interest two years ago.
Surrounded by a clutch of trophies and medals at the family's home at Southport, the dewy-skinned demon with forehands and drop shots in her genes didn't flinch when asked if she would make it to the top spot one day.
"That's my plan," said Sarah, who turns 11 next Thursday, with a motorised scooter top of her wish list.
"I think I'll be No.1 for sure. I love the game now, it's how I want to live in the future.
"My brother has been a big support for me, just like my dad. I admire Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters (Venus and Serena).
"I'm so happy to be the little sister of Bernard, he looks after me, although he can be very cheeky at times."
Proud father John, who brought his family to the Gold Coast via Germany as refugees from upheaval in the Balkans 13 years ago, claims Sarah has all the ingredients to ride the same elevator that has carried Bernard into Davis Cup calculations and the conscious of a public yearning for a successor to a fading Lleyton Hewitt.
"She hits the ball hard, loves to come to the net and is already playing and beating some girls two years her senior," said her doting dad, who so far has poured most of his energy into Bernard.
"She plays a lot like Bernard. She has got very good touch. She is definitely better now than Bernard was when he was 10.
"She's played school tournaments in Newcastle, Rockhampton, Sydney, Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast and watch out for her in five years or so.
"She has a better volley and serve than Bernard and is technically more gifted.
"She has a natural understanding of the game and just needs to work on her fitness."
Tennis Gold Coast tournament director Wayne Hawker, who barely missed a beat of Bernard's rise from the grassroots at Queens Park Tennis Club, sees many of the same characteristics in Tomic's sister.
"She played at state and now national level and has done really well on the junior masters circuit," he said.
"She has a real grit, a very good temperament and I see no reason why she shouldn't do exceptionally well if she continues along the path she's on now."
The Tomic clan will head overseas to base themselves either in Florida or London at the end of next month in the next phase of the career of Bernard, who is now ranked 560 in the world and aiming to crack the top 50 within two years.