Las Vegas, 15 October 2010 | AAP
Still buzzing from a dream week in Las Vegas with Team Agassi, Australian tennis prodigy Ashleigh Barty has scored one of the biggest wins of her life.
Displaying all the confidence that comes from rubbing shoulders with Steffi Graf, Barty upset top seed Arina Rodionova – the younger sister of dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anastasia Rodionova – 0-6 6-2 6-4 in the first round of the Pro Tour event in Mt Gambier.
The 14-year-old hot shot – who has already made her mark in the Junior Fed Cup – has long been earmarked for stardom, but is even more inspired to scale the heights after enjoying a memorable VIP trip to Vegas.
As a guest of the esteemed adidas player development team, Barty received specialist tuition from Agassi’s former coach and fellow Australian Darren Cahill and also attended a baseball game with Graf.
But the highlight of Barty’s stay was bonding with Agassi’s legendary conditioner Gil Reyes.
Reyes introduced Barty to his famous “Gil water” – a special concoction to enhance recovery and performance that Agassi swore by during his illustrious career – and ended their session with a trip to the famed heartbreak hill, where the American superstar spent countless painful hours preparing himself for grand slam success.
“Gil has amazing stories that he tells to us with a huge amount of passion and pride,” Barty said.
“Stories from the days when he was coaching Arnold Schwarzenegger to help him become Mr Universe to the present days working with Fernando Verdasco and (newly crowned world No.1) Caroline Wozniacki.
“In his gym, he constantly says that this is `my time’ and it should be all about me.
“He is an amazing person to be around and gives me a lot of confidence in the gym.
“This trip has given me a lot of confidence and self-belief and has made me realise how I need to work and what sacrifices I must make in order to be a great tennis player.”
Barty looms as a genuine star of the future.
In April, while still only 13, Barty won two ITF under-18 events on clay in Ipswich before completing an undefeated singles campaign for Australia at the ITF World Junior Tennis Competition in the Czech Republic in August.
She then went undefeated again in singles – despite being the youngest player in the competition – as Australia finished fifth at last month’s Junior Fed Cup in Mexico.