GETTING TO KNOW...ASHLEIGH BARTY
Ashleigh Barty is Australian tennis' new star, but when she's not appearing in Grand Slam finals she likes nothing better than hitting the water for a spot of fishing.
LONDON, England - Although her Wimbledon adventure may have ended in final heartbreak on Saturday evening, Ashleigh Barty has plenty to look back at and savor from the past fortnight.
The unassuming 17-year-old, who lifted the junior singles title at the All-England Club in 2011, has long been touted as one to watch, and her growing army of admirers has been given plenty of ammunition by her exploits this season.
In January, Barty and Casey Dellacqua left a trail of seeds in their wake as they finished as surprise runners-up at the Australian Open, and this summer they have proved this was no flash in the pan, reuniting to triumph in Birmingham and then again for their Wimbledon near miss.
So what is the secret behind her breakthough? Well, wtatennis.com caught up with Barty during a rare quiet moment to talk Fed Cup, grass court tennis and fishing!
How did you get into tennis?
AB: Well, my sisters used to play netball and we would always drive past these tennis courts. So one day we decided to give tennis a go and it has kind of brought me to where I am today. It was just before my fifth birthday - I started nice and early!
Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
AB: My parents are called Josie and Robert Barty. Dad works in the Indigenous Services, in the State Library of Queensland, and Mum's a radiographer in Ipswich Hospital. I have two older sisters, named Sarah and Ali. Sarah is the oldest and she's a midwife and Ali is currently at University studying teaching, so they're both pretty busy.
Who is your coach at the moment?
AB: At the moment, Jason Stoltenberg coaches me and I've been working with him for two years now. My very first coach was Jim Joyce and I still work with him to this day, so we've been together for over 12 years now and it's been a pretty special relationship - he's like a second father to me and it's always nice to go home and see Jim when I can.
How would you describe yourself as a player?
AB: I try to be an all-court player; I like to use variety, use the slice and mix things up a little with a few droppies as well. I think my strength would be having the ability to have this variety and playing shots that other girls may not know how to play or have in their repertoire, I suppose.
Did you have a tennis idol growing up?
AB: I didn't really because no one in the family really played tennis, so I didn't really grow up watching tennis on TV. I suppose my first memory of watching it on TV was pretty recently, maybe about 2008.
What is your favorite tennis memory?
AB: I think definitely it was playing Fed Cup for Australia. Just recently I played my first couple of ties and I won my first singles rubber, which was live, so that was pretty special for me.
Who has been your toughest opponent?
AB: That's a tricky one because different girls on different surfaces are very tough. I played Petra Kvitova in the French Open in 2012 and she taught me a bit of a lesson there - that was a bit of a tough one, although it was a good experience.
What are your goals in tennis?
AB: I just want to be the best player that I can be. I have no set goals for ranking or anything like that, I just want to try and reach my potential and have some fun while I'm doing so. I'm just kind of playing it by ear and keep enjoying the journey.
What's your favorite surface?
AB: My favorite surface is grass. I've always had really good success on grass and I love it
How about your favorite tournament or city?
AB: My favorite tournament is definitely Wimbledon. I've always held that tournament very close to me and have always had great success there. As for city, there's no place like home, but other than that, I really love New York - I've always had great fun playing there and I could move there in a heartbeat.
How far did you go in your education?
AB: Well, still studying! This is my last year, I've still got Year 12 to finish, so just a couple of months left and then I'm done. I'm looking forward to that and finishing, for sure.
What do you like to do for fun?
AB: I love to fish and read books and play on my computer. They're probably the biggest three things that I do; it's always good fun going fishing and just relaxing on the water. I don't have a boat yet, but I'd love to get one. The biggest fish I caught was probably a 60cm snapper I got when I went out after the Australian Open - that was pretty nice!
Do you have a favorite book, film or band?
AB: I have a favorite series, it's by Morris Gleitzman. It's a kid's series, the first in the series is called Once and, although it's pretty short, I do like them. I don't really have a favorite film, although I do watch a lot of movies. My favorite band is probably Maroon 5 or The Script.
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
AB: Maybe, sarcastic. I have quite a dry sense of humor.
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like it to be?
AB: That's a really tough one. I'm so lucky to have the career that I do and to be around so many amazing people. I don't know if I could pinpoint just one.
If not tennis, what career would you have chosen?
AB: If not playing professionally, then I would have done coaching. I love to coach and sometimes when I'm back home I'll go out with Kim and try to show kids the ropes and see if I can teach them something new.