Young Victorian Destanee Aiava has won the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament at Roland Garros, securing her chance to play alongside tennis legend Steffi Graf.
Aiava defeated Japan’s Haruna Arakawa 4-2 5-3 in the final of the U13 international competition, an event involving 16 of the best female juniors from around the world.
Twelve year old Aiava demonstrated impressive strength and determination on court straight-setting her opponents to earn a spot in the final, including victories over 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).
Following the final, Aiava teamed up with Graf for an exhibition doubles match, against Haruma and current world No.13 Sabine Lisicki of Germany.
Destanee, from Narre Warren in Victoria, said it was an amazing experience to win and a great honour to play alongside Longines ambassador and 22-time Grand Slam champion Graf.
“I like playing on clay and I feel comfortable. It was exciting to be on court with Steffi.”
Tennis Australia’s Head of Professional Tennis Todd Woodbridge said Aiava is a great athlete with a promising future.
“As Australia’s top-ranked girl in her age group she’s had the chance to test herself against the best in the world and come out on top. It’s a fantastic result and hopefully the start of a successful career,” he said.
As a result of reaching the final, Aiava will receive funding from Longines towards her tennis equipment for the next four years.