Queenslander Ash Barty will play in the quarter-final of the Australian Open today. Picture: Michael Klein
Queenslander Ash Barty will play in the quarter-final of the Australian Open today. Picture: Michael Klein

From humble high school student to Aussie tennis star

ASH Barty was a down-to-earth high school student who travelled the world for tennis and still achieved straight As.

Now the 22-year-old Ipswich-born athlete is the top-ranked women's tennis player in Australia, but her sporting career had humble beginnings.

While thousands of Queenslanders cheer Barty on in today's quarter-final match against Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open, a small fan club will be watching from airconditioned classrooms at Woodcrest State College, where Barty completed her schooling.

Dean of Woodcrest State College, Alfio Balsamo, was a former PE teacher of Ash Barty at the school. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP
Dean of Woodcrest State College, Alfio Balsamo, was a former PE teacher of Ash Barty at the school. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP

Dean of College Alfio Balsamo was the head of sport when Barty was a student. He said she was always humble, even when travelling the world and winning the 2011 Junior Wimbledon.

"She never, ever had a big head about her. She was just a very humble, very down-to-earth student," he said.

"She was an absolutely fantastic student, she was able to travel the world, train, play tournaments and still get straight As, so she was just ­brilliant."

Barty had such an enormous talent for tennis as a junior that she progressed quickly through the ranks and got the chance to meet Queensland's tennis great, two-times US Open champion Pat Rafter.

The young tennis star first lifted a racquet at the age of five, but her junior coaches quickly realised she had what it takes to become a champion.

Sarah Joyce, whose husband Rob and his brother Jim own West Brisbane Tennis Centre, said Barty always stood out for having a natural talent.

"She was so far above her age group, when she was growing up," she said.

Today, Barty will take on Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

News Corp Australia


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