Tennis boom in Australia as Barty, Alcott, Kyrgios and Kokkinaki’s success ‘breeds success’

Every time 14-year-old Milly Bonassi gets on the tennis court, she knows what she wants.

The success of a retired Ash Barty – a triple Grand Slam winner – has added the aspiring tennis player’s dedication and will to succeed in the sport.

“I want to be like Barty on the pitch. She’s strong and kind.” said Milly.

A smiling Ash Barty holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the Australian Open final.
Ash Barty’s victory inspires more Australians to consider tennis. (AP: Hamish Blair)

And the teenager from Sunshine Coast is not alone.

Impact on grassroots tennis

Tennis Australia reports that since the Australian Open in January, interest in the sport has increased 343 percent and it is now “the fastest growing sport across all ages”.

“The success and impact of our homemade heroes at the Australian Open 22 extends far beyond the event this summer,” said Tennis Australia’s Chief Tennis Officer Tom Larner.

Sir. Larner said interest was across generations, with an 80 percent increase in inquiries for juniors’ Tennis Hot Shots, while interest in recreational cardio tennis programs increased 105 percent.

There has also been a 33 percent increase in bookings of available courses via the website play.tennis.com.au.

Matt, wearing a yellow t-shirt, white shorts, glasses, helps Milly practice with her tennis racket on the court.
Milly’s coach Matt Deverson says a role model like Barty is a great example for all players.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Janel Shorthouse)

That enthusiasm has been felt at the Sunshine Coast Regional Tennis Center.

Head coach Matt Deverson said he had been “run off his feet” in an attempt to keep up with the increase in attendance this year.

“It’s always getting busier after the Open,” he said.

But in addition to the interest among leisure players, Mr Deverson also expected an increase in participation at the competition level because “players will want to compete more at tournaments”.

Deverson, who coaches future players like Milly, said the recent success of Australian tennis players was “inspiring” and a “glimmer of hope” for junior tennis players across the country.

A new era of tennis?

Sir. Larner said this year’s Australian Open was “one of the best” and resonated with people of all ages across the country.

Aside from Barty’s performance, he said this year’s Australian Dylan Alcott was an inspiration and advocate for people with a disability, while doubles teams Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis “brought in a whole new legion of fans”.

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Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis – friends since childhood and hope to inspire a new generation of children(Elias Clure)

Former professional tennis player Alicia Molik – who was ranked number 13 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.

Alicia Molik wears a blue and black sleeveless tennis shirt, blonde hair tied back, about to hit a ball with rackets.
Former world number 13 Alicia Molik says Barty’s success will bring more success.(AAP: Martin Philbey:)

“It will really boost Australian talent and our achievements on the world stage.”

She believed there could even be a return to the golden age of tennis when players like Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Margaret Court and Rod Laver caught the world’s attention.

“It’s exciting. It will take our game to a whole new level,” Molik said.

A close-up of a smiling Milly on a tennis court, wearing a sunshade, hair and a pigtail, a backpack on her shoulder.
Australia’s professional tennis players are inspiring young players like Milly.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Janel Shorthouse)

Molik said parents who may have never considered the sport could steer their child toward tennis because of Barty.

“I actually think a lot of parents and kids will look at her and think, ‘Oh, she does it in a really respectful way, a really clinical way, and a really humble way,'” Molik said.

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