Melbourne, Australia, 4 December 2012 | Tennis Australia

While explaining in an interview earlier today how one of the most memorable moments on a tennis court was an unfortunate instance when her doubles partner had inadvertently served the ball directly into the back of her head, the wind picked up into a small storm, sending a branch with full force soaring down onto Storm Sanders.

When confronted with a challenge, or in parallel a storm, be it on or off the court it appears to pose no match for the unyielding, rising tennis star from Western Australia.

The 18-year-old might be seen enjoying a surf at her picturesque beach home town in Cottesloe, however, it was her remarkable aptitude for tennis that was showcased at Melbourne Park today.

Despite having had a match scheduled early this morning, Sanders acted as a junior reporter at her first Newcombe Medal Awards ceremony last night.

> Photos: Optus 18s Australian Championships

“It was so much fun. The night was amazing and there were so many great players there,” said Sanders.

She shared a table with esteemed coach Nicole Pratt along with fellow 18/U rising star Ashleigh Barty and 14/U player Destanee Aiava, along with their respective coaches Jason Stoltenberg and Andrea Stoltenberg.

Despite the excitement of the Newcombe Medal, she did not allow it to affect her state of mind during the match as even if she was feeling slightly weary from the event, it most definitely did not show in her play today.

Her driving forehand proved too strong for Sam Harris’ backhand to deflect and Storm’s consistency at the baseline seemed to shake Harris’ game a little, her opponent double faulting on numerous occasions and making unforced errors at critical points throughout the match.

The 18-year-old maintains an excellent attitude towards her tennis and this was definitely reflected on the scoreboard today as she wasted no time, clinching the match relatively quickly in straight sets 6-2 6-2.

“It was a good solid first match, so I was happy.

“I think today I played pretty well, just a few loose errors here and there so just got to work on that.

Sanders currently holds a singles ranking of 656 and reached a career high singles ranking of 606 in early November and achieved a doubles height of 333 in May earlier this year.

She began playing tennis at the young age of six, and first developed a love for the sport from following the tennis; watching it on the television with her family as a child.

After displaying an evident immediate interest for the sport, her dad enrolled her at the local squad in Rockhampton and she has been playing tennis ever since.

Her tennis idols include Andre Agassi whose game she loved to watch growing up at a younger age and more recently she has come to admire fellow lefty Rafael Nadal.

“Rafa puts so much intensity into every single point. He’s a fighter.

“I really look up to him.”

While none of her family members are tennis players themselves, they are extremely supportive of Storm’s tennis aspirations and it is foremost her family from whom she draws her true inspiration on the court.

Sanders expressed her appreciation for her family’s dedication to her pursuing a career in tennis and their support empowers her to maintain motivation levels.

“They’re happy that I’m chasing my dream, I couldn’t do it without them.

“My family, they keep me going, my mum joined the Navy when she was 39 and so she’s tough and inspiring.”

She explained that it can be difficult at times when travelling to be away from family and friends, however she carries with her a bracelet adorned with charms to remind her of home while she’s touring with a shell for the beach, a house for Cottesloe and a money bag for the prize, together representing all the elements that drive her towards her career objectives in tennis.

Sanders finds importance in keeping very much engaged in social media, tweeting her experiences and photos to her fans.

“I think it’s great just to spread the word of tennis and I can share my photos through tweeting and it lets the public interact with us, the players, and they can get involved.”

Sanders has high hopes for the remainder of the summer.

“The important thing is to have fun most of all. You don’t really get to go play 18s Nationals every year, this is my last year so I want to enjoy it. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to do well.

“If I’m enjoying it, I’ll do well and the result will take care of itself.”

She intends to start saving her prizemoney towards buying her dream home on the beach back home in Cottesloe.

“I’d also look after my family and buy my mum a nice car because she loves her cars.”

Storm noted a significant improvement in the standard of the players in comparison to last year.

“You’ve got a few of the younger ones who have done well this year as well.

“It’s gonna be a tough 18s but we’ll see how it goes. Bring it on.”

The Optus 18s Teams Championships have been a breeze for Storm Sanders thus far and her determination should see her into the final rounds of the tournament.


Rain disrupted afternoon matches, you can check updated results, draws and order of play here.