Aussie women: Success breeding success
While Ash Barty thrives at world No.1, the camaraderie among Australia’s top players provides another reason to celebrate on International Women’s Day.
As popular world No.1 Ash Barty leads a group of 12 compatriots inside the WTA’s top 250, there can be no questioning the current heights in Australian women’s tennis.
With the memories of Australia’s appearance in a 17th Fed Cup in 2019 final still strong, Ajla Tomljanovic celebrated further career highs in the Australian summer, while fellow top-100 star Sam Stosur continued to build on her stunning career longevity as she embarked on an 18th year on tour.
Arguably even more encouraging, however, is that the biggest wins aren’t necessarily of the rankings or match-winning kind.
The recently-retired Casey Dellacqua – a close friend of Barty, as well as a popular and accessible mentor to many young countrywomen – related the sentiment as she led a group of those players at a WTA camp at Melbourne Park last year.
“There’s no doubt for me the standout is Ash Barty. I mean she’s No.1 in the world. Not only has she done a phenomenal job on the court winning Roland Garros and finishing (2019) as the world No.1,” said Dellacqua of the many recent highs.
“But it’s how she’s represented herself, her team and Australia on a regular basis throughout the year. I think that’s just a real standout for me.”
“Making the Fed Cup final was obviously the other highlight for Australian women’s tennis (and) when you go down the line you see the number of girls ranked from 100-250 playing qualifying of Slams.
“The camaraderie in Australian women’s tennis is really great. I think that’s something to be really proud of.”
Lizette Cabrerra, who peaked at world No.119 after reaching a second WTA-level quarterfinal at Hobart earlier this year, is quick to agree.
“I we all get along really well and we all push each other. I think it’s awesome that we’re all a great bunch of girls,” said the Townsville-born 22-year-old, who counts Priscilla Hon and Kimberly Birrell as her closest friends.
“I couldn’t pick out anyone that I dislike or anything. It’s just a really nice vibe and I think we all do a really good job working together and pushing each other.”
Maddison Inglis, who has soared to her current high of world No.112 after securing back-to-back Pro Tour titles, believes the supportive environment has helped her thrive.
“Everyone is competitive, but they want each to do well,” the 22-year-old Inglis related. “Whenever we’re at the same tournaments everyone’s cheering on the girls.”
Inglis was born in Perth but recently relocated to Brisbane, where her training partners include Cabrera, Hon and her close friend Kaylah McPhee, with whom she travels for much of the year.
Making steady inroads on her own path to success, the 242nd-ranked McPhee is delighted to be a among such a steadily improving group.
“I feel like one girl does well and then five girls follow. It just keeps getting better and better,” McPhee related with a smile.”
“Obviously we’ve got Ash as No.1 and that’s just incredible but I think we have like 12 girls inside the top 250 which is a number that I don’t think we’ve seen in a while.
“I think all the girls, we’re all just pushing each other on. We’re just so happy for each other when we do well.”