Re: Destanee Aiava
Steffi Graf sings Aussie 12-year-old Destanee Aiava's praises
VALKERIE BAYNES IN PARIS THE COURIER-MAIL JUNE 11, 2012 12:00AM
Young Australian tennis player Destanee Aiava has had her praises sung by tennis legend Steffi Graf. Source: Supplied
NOT many 12-year-olds have a 22-time grand slam champion singing their praises, but that's what happened to Australia's Destanee Aiava on Sunday.
Steffi Graf was "really impressed" after playing an exhibition with the Narre Warren youngster at Roland Garros, home of the French Open.
It was Aiava's prize for winning the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament, an event involving 16 girls from around the world.
"We were playing against the wind a little bit on that one side but she wasn't bothered by that at all," said Longines ambassador Graf, who teamed up with Aiava in doubles.
"She was going for her strokes. She showed clever shots at the net. I was very impressed."
Aiava defeated opponents from Britain, Spain and Switzerland before winning the final 4-2 5-3 against Japan's Haruna Arakawa, who teamed in yesterday's exhibition with Germany's world No.13, Sabine Lisicki.
Aiava said Graf had told her to "keep working hard and enjoy every moment".
Aiava's speed and power are impressive, the result of working with father Mark, a powerlifter, and mother Rosie, a professional kick-boxer. She also works with coach Andrea Stoltenberg.
Tennis Australia's Todd Woodbridge said Aiava was "a fantastic little athlete".
"I don't think I've seen in women's tennis in Australia who has a physique as athletic and as fast moving," he said.
"We know she's going to grow and we know she's going to get physically stronger. And that's where the game has gone."