Every time 14-year-old Milly Bonassi gets on the tennis court, she knows what she wants.
- According to Tennis Australia, interest in tennis has soared more than 340 per cent across Australia this year
- Sunshine Coast Regional Tennis Centre’s head coach Matt Deverson says the number of teenagers trying out tennis has surged
- Former professional tennis player Alicia Molik says the success of Australian players will breed more sucess
“I want to be like Barty on court. She’s strong and kind.” Milly said.
And the Sunshine Coast teen is not alone.
Impact on grassroots tennis
Tennis Australia reports that since the Australian Open in January, interest in the sport has increased 343 per cent, and it is now “the fastest growing sport across all ages”.
“The success and impact of our homegrown heroes at the Australian Open 22 extend well beyond the event this summer,” Tennis Australia’s chief tennis officer Tom Larner said.
Mr Larner said the interest was cross-generational, with an 80 per cent increase in enquiries for the junior’s Tennis Hot Shots, while interest in the recreational cardio tennis programs soared 105 per cent.
There has also been a 33 per cent increase in casual court hire bookings through the play.tennis.com.au website.
That enthusiasm has been felt at the Sunshine Coast Regional Tennis Centre.
Head coach Matt Deverson said he had been “run off his feet” trying to keep up with the surge in participation this year.
“It always gets busier after the Open, ” he said.
However, on top of the interest among recreational players, Mr Deverson also expected a surge in participation at the competitive level because “players are going to want to compete more at tournaments”.
Mr Deverson, who coaches up-and-coming players like Milly, said the recent success of Australian tennis players was “inspirational” and a “glimmer of hope” for junior tennis players across the country.
A new era of tennis?
Mr Larner said this year’s Australian Open was “one of the best” and had resonated with people of all ages across the country.
Aside from Barty’s achievements, he said Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott was an inspiration and advocate for people with a disability, while doubles team Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis “brought in a whole new legion of fans”.
Former professional tennis player Alicia Molik — who was ranked number13 in the world — said the success of the Australian players would “bring home” to aspiring tennis stars that they too could be the best in the world.
“It’s going to really boost Australian talent and our performances on the world stage.”
She believed there could even be a return to the golden age of tennis when players such as Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Margaret Court and Rod Laver captured the world’s attention.
“It’s exciting. It’s going to take our game to a whole new level,” Molik said.
Molik said parents, who might never have considered the sport, might steer their child toward tennis because of Barty.
“I actually think a lot of parents and kids will watch her and think, ‘Oh, she goes about it in a really respectful way, a really clinical way, and a real humble way’,” Molik said.