Victorian Destanee Aiava (Narre Warren) has returned home after her victorious trip to France where she won the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament.
The win gave 12 year old Aiava the chance to meet and play alongside tennis legend and 22 time Grand Slam singles winner Steffi Graf, something Aiava will never forget.
“It was a great experience,” said Aiava.
“I want to play just like her and her game.”
Aiava received some priceless advice from Graf when the pair partnered for an exhibition match against Haruna Arakawa, who Aiava beat in the final, and current world No.15 Sabine Lisicki.
“She (Graf) told me to keep working hard and stay focused … and just to have fun while I’m doing it,” said Aiava.
Returning to Australia doesn’t mean resting however; she is straight back into training where she is still looking for ways to improve her game.
“I’m working on my forehand … on getting into position early.”
Mark Aiava, Destanee’s father, said he was speechless when his daughter won the tournament.
“No one could have scripted it better … I choked up,” said Mark.
“It’s something you only read about or watch in the movies.”
Aiava went through the international competition without dropping a set, winning the final 4-2 5-3 over Japan’s Haruna Arakawa.
In the event involving 16 of the best female juniors from around the world, Aiava defeated Switzerland’s Luna Milovanovic (4-0 4-1) in the semis and tournament favourite Paula Manjon from Spain in the quarters (5-3 4-2).
Aiava is currently on a contract with Longines, who are providing funding towards her tennis equipment until she is 16 years old.
“For Destanee to go and even win one match would have been amazing, but to take out the whole thing is just incredible.” said Amelia Michael, Longine Australia’s Brand Manager.
“Her mental strength is mind-blowing for someone that age.”