Melbourne, Australia, 9 December 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Ashlee Narker is proudly paving her own path.

The 18-year-old from New South Wales created history today, becoming the first deaf player to win the girls’ singles title at the 18-and-under Australian Championships.

Third-seeded Narker completed an impressive week at the 2023 December Showdown with a 6-3 6-3 victory against Queensland’s Lily Taylor in the final.

It was her sixth consecutive singles victory and marked her second-straight win against a top-two seeded opponent.

“It was good to get the win today,” Narker beamed after beating the top seed in 65 minutes. “I’m so happy.”

The final was played at Melbourne Park’s National Tennis Centre, after inclement weather meant it was unable to be played outdoors as originally scheduled.

“I was kind of nervous because there were so many people watching and she has beaten me before, so I was like ‘Oh God’,” Narker laughed.

“It was a big change too going from the outdoor courts to indoors. It was really fast and you have to adapt really quickly.

“But I think I managed to adapt better.”

By winning the girls’ singles title at the 18/u Australian Championships, Narker joins an illustrious honour roll that includes former world No.1 Ash Barty.

Yet Narker, who was born profoundly deaf, revealed she isn’t aiming to follow in anyone’s footsteps.

“I don’t look up to anyone. I’m my own person,” she said.

Narker, who vowed to win this event after losing in the opening qualifying round last year, is now targeting more success as she embarks upon a new journey.

She is relocating to America next month to attend Iowa State University, where she has received a full scholarship to join their tennis team.

“Obviously I’ve achieved my goal now,” said Narker, who was presented her trophy from 2022 champion Stefani Webb.

“So I’m going to work towards the next one. I want to do well in college.”

In the doubles competition, Elizabeth Ivanov of New South Wales and Sarah Mildren from South Australia were crowned champions.

The 16-year-old Ivanov and 15-year-old Mildren defeated Victorian Isabella Crossman and South Australian Kristina Tai 6-2 6-2 in the final.

Elizabeth Ivanov and Sarah Mildren celebrate their victory. Picture: Tennis Australia

Elizabeth Ivanov and Sarah Mildren celebrate their victory. Picture: Tennis Australia


Girls’ singles, final
[3] Ashlee Narker (NSW) d [1] Lily Taylor (Qld) 6-3 6-3

Girls’ doubles, final
Elizabeth Ivanov (NSW)/Sarah Mildren (SA) d Isabella Crossman (Vic)/Kristina Tai (SA) 6-2 6-2

> VIEW: 18/u Australian Championships draws

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