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AUSBOY
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:41 PM
Casey Dellacqua's traumatic year is finishing on a high, writes Jessica Halloran.

THERE were a few times Casey Dellacqua was reduced to tears this year. The first tears fell when the critics ripped into her voluptuous body after a first-round defeat on centre court at the Australian Open last summer.
Dellacqua's soft arms and stocky torso caused one detractor to publicly observe her as "slow and overweight". Fellow Australian player Nicole Pratt also noted that her fitness levels needed to be increased.

Dellacqua's dreams of making the women's top 10? "Someone tell her she's dreaming," wrote one columnist.

This week, when reminded of the criticism last January, 21-year-old Dellacqua shrugged it off, but those close to her say the cutting words upset her, like they would any young woman.

Since the summer Dellacqua has been working on her fitness. However, she noted this week that she still can't afford to have a personal fitness trainer, let alone a coach, tour with her. Dellacqua said she's not as fit as she could be, and dreams of having assistance with her fitness.

"The hardest thing is being by myself," she said. "This whole year I've travelled by myself again. I haven't had any support. It's been really tough. I haven't had the financial resources to have someone with me. I still don't think I'm as fit as I could be, but it's something I'm working on."

"But what I've been doing has been working because I'm getting some good results now. I've been beating players of a bit of a higher calibre … so, I'm doing the best I can."

Sometimes she has good weeks when she eats all the right foods, pumps it at the gym and trains perfectly. "But sometimes I have bad weeks," she said. "Like any average person would."

But the hardest moment in her career, a moment that prefaced another emotional time, came last winter, and it had nothing to do with tennis. It was when her mother, Nita, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"That was the worst bit, sometimes you just don't want to be away playing tennis," said Dellacqua. "You just want to be at home with your mum."

Her mum was diagnosed - and told she needed surgery and chemotherapy - two days before Dellacqua was due to leave for the US Open. "I was just really shocked by it all," Dellacqua said.

But trips home to Perth, watching her mum endure chemotherapy with determination, inspired Dellacqua. Now her mum's courage and words have motivated her still further.

At times Dellacqua considered putting down the racquet and returning home. But Nita insisted she keep playing. "I've been really happy with the way I've been able to get on court and get on with things and play my matches,"

Dellacqua said. "I know that's what everyone at home wants me to do."
After watching and hearing her teary daughter over the phone at her lowest points, Nita would tell Casey to stay strong. "Keep going," Nita said. "Hang in there, I believe in you and you can do it, it's going to take time but you can do it."

It has taken time but Dellacqua has survived the season, her fitness has improved gradually and the second half of her year has been triumphant. She finished at a career-high No.155. After finishing as the best performing female on the Kia Pro circuit, Dellacqua this week was awarded a wildcard to the Australian Open. "Just seeing someone go through something like that, it really puts things into perspective," Dellacqua said of her mother's battle. "She's just been amazing and so positive."

The Dellacqua women have been there for each other in the tough times. "When she's a bit teary I've said, 'C'mon, Mum, you've got to get on with things'," Dellacqua said.

"For both of us it's been an experience that's definitely brought us a lot closer."

It will be Dellacqua's fifth Australian Open. "I've never got past the first round," Dellacqua said. "It's kind of always hanging over my head. Hopefully I get a fairly decent draw so I can give it a real crack."

She will certainly be hoping the draw is kinder than this year's, when she faced Lindsay Davenport and lost 6-2, 6-1. But this summer will nevertheless bring a great experience after a tumultuous few months - she's looking forward to her mother being courtside in Melbourne. Nita will finish radiation therapy on December 14.

"She knew at the beginning of the year how much I was struggling," Dellacqua said. "I was finding it hard to get motivated … She knew that this was kind of it for me. It was a year to really give it a crack. My goal at the end of the year was to finish at 150 in the world and I nearly have."

"She's really proud that I've done that but she's really stoked to be able to go over to the Australian Open."

MyskinaManiac
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:50 PM
Casey has the game to be top 100... I just didn't know how tough her year really was, due to the fact that she has rapidly moved up the rankings.

-sugi-
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:50 PM
:awww: What a nice article. I hope she can make top 100 and win a round at Australian Open

Meesh
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:57 PM
Wow, I'm glad she is doing better. That is rough seeing someone you love going through Chemo. I couldn't picture her so I went out to getty and found her pic in Moorilla International - Day 4 (jan 06)... she looks soo much better now. Her pic in September's Sunfeast Open is totally different.
Good Luck Casey and Nita.

Dexter
Dec 10th, 2006, 01:32 PM
Casey :hug: all the best in 2007! :)
Also health wishes for her mother! :hug:

*death* @ Pratt comenting on Casey's fitness :tape:

krystlel
Dec 10th, 2006, 01:47 PM
Good article. Thanks for posting.

.Andrew.
Dec 10th, 2006, 01:58 PM
Casey! :hug: Good luck in 07' and hopefully you can win a round during the Aussie season! :)

Fantastic
Dec 11th, 2006, 03:09 PM
I wish her mum all the best.

esquímaux
Dec 12th, 2006, 11:48 AM
*death* @ Pratt comenting on Casey's fitness :tape::rolls::tape::haha: Awe, this is a really touching story. I sympathize for the lil brickhouse babe :awww:

Sharapova's_Boy
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:00 PM
Casey :smooch:

Ben.
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:01 PM
Touching article there :awww: I didn't realise what she was going through this year with her fitness issues, financial issues etc & then her mother getting cancer was just too depressing to bear for her :sad:

I really do believe she can break into the Top 100 & eventually win a MD match at the Aussie Open :yeah: All the best Casey :)

MyskinaManiac
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:06 PM
Casey will do well in 07... I can feel it in my waters!

Farina Elia Fan
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:11 PM
good luck Casey :wavey:

Andy.
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:22 PM
I really hope for her and her Family that she has a really good 2007.

Verdasco
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:26 PM
I think Casey will be ranked around 80 by the end of 2007. Best of luck to Nita :)

Best of luck at Australian Open 2007 Casey :)

Btw Casey is from and lives in Perth which is where I live. I wonder if she lives near me? I have never actually thought about that :lol:

Selah
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:32 PM
awww, that was inspiring. We often forget the women outside the top 50-100 have so many financial challenges to pursuing their dreams of being a professional player. Good Luck to her. I hope the Aus federation would help her more, and stop putting empty resources into people like Dokic everytime she decides she wants to be an Aus citizen again.

auntie janie
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:35 PM
Nice article! Makes you more sympathetic for the less-fit girls when you read something like this. It's a good point, not everyone can afford to pay a trainer to get them in motion.

Now I'll be rooting for Casey (and her Mom!) in 2007. :hug:

SM
Dec 13th, 2006, 04:42 AM
good luck casey. i hope the draw next year is a bit better for her se she coud win a round or two which is definately possible.

KimC&MariaSNo1's
Dec 13th, 2006, 11:36 AM
Good luck to Casey she is realy sweet girl i hope she gets what she hopes for and more in 2007 she deserves it

Привет
Dec 14th, 2006, 09:24 AM
Sad about her mum, that must be hard on her.

Anyway I hope she can get to the level of fitness that she wants to be at, and I hope she can crack the top 100 as well. Hopefully she can get a nice draw so she can win a round or two in Melbourne.

jas_aussie
Dec 14th, 2006, 11:51 AM
Casey will be in top 100 she has been through so much and i think she should be rewarded for all her hard work

louloubelle
Dec 15th, 2006, 11:06 AM
Had glandular fever in 2004 or 05 as well. Has had a rough trot.