Greats spur on teenager

Ipswich’s international tennis player Ashleigh Barty enjoys some rare time relaxing at home recently before resuming intense training for 2012 tournaments.
Ipswich’s international tennis player Ashleigh Barty enjoys some rare time relaxing at home recently before resuming intense training for 2012 tournaments. Rob Williams

WHEN you're as dedicated and well-travelled as Ashleigh Barty, it's hard to attend award functions.

However, the Ipswich tennis achiever is delighted she made the annual Queensland Sports Awards presentation at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday night.

Being in a heavy training phase after her recent Wimbledon, US Open and Fed Cup junior successes, Barty has little time to spend at home.

But in between training yesterday with coach Jason Stoltenberg, Barty found a few minutes to reflect on her latest honour - being crowned Queensland's junior sport star of the year.

"I'm very surprised the fact that I won it," said Barty, 15.

"It was very nice to be part of it."

Barty said seeing US Open winner Sam Stosur win the senior award was an added thrill for her and Australian tennis.

On the night, the Springfield ace sat at the same table as Stosur, Pat Rafter and the award-winning duo's families.

Ipswich born and bred Aboriginal competitor Barty also recently won a Deadly Award for her memorable year.

"I haven't been able to attend them all (presentation functions) because of travelling but it was nice to get home to that (Queensland awards) and be in the same room as Rod Laver and Roy Emerson," she said.

Tennis greats Laver and Emerson were among the 11 Queensland achievers inducted into the state's Hall of Fame.

Other world-class sportspeople honoured included golfing legend Greg Norman, motorcycling racer Mick Doohan, rugby union great John Eales, athletics star Catherine Freeman, rugby league icon Wally Lewis and international swimmers Susie O'Neill and Kieren Perkins.

Only former Test cricket captain Allan Border (in South Africa) and horse racing's the late George Moore were not present at the gala function.

"It was really special for me to be there and share that moment with them," Barty said, clearly inspired by the all-star occasion.

"They (the legends) give me exactly what (motivation) I need."

Wimbledon junior champion Barty appreciated her recognition before returning to Melbourne for more training.

"I don't think I'll ever get sick of them (awards)," she laughed.

"It's a very prestigious award."

Since her Wimbledon title success, Barty has been working with former international player Stoltenberg.

Having enjoyed a short break, she's stepped up her court work, hoping to contest the Brisbane International and Australian Open tournaments in January.

"I'll have another week of training here in Melbourne then I'll get into a couple of tournaments before the Aussie summer," she said.

"I enjoy coming down here and using the facilities.

"Jason is helping me with my whole game. He's become more of a mentor as well. It's a really good relationship."

Topics:  award fed cup junior tennis us open

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