Craig Fielke – Principal

Whilst I particularly enjoy watching elite sporting events, over time I have found it increasingly difficult to engage with the sport of tennis.

The monotony of baseline rallies, the screeching and grunting of combatants and the embarrassing antics of a growing number of players (and unfortunately a significant quota of Australian players) has dulled my enthusiasm.

Against this trend, during the recent Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday, I was heartened to experience the incredible success of Ashleigh Barty at the French Open.

Barty started playing tennis at the age of four. She had an impressive junior career, winning the 2011 Wimbledon girls’ singles title and reached No. 2 in the junior world ranking.

Upon entering the professional ranks, she had immediate success in doubles, reaching multiple Grand Slam finals in 2013. However, she grew disillusioned with the rigours of the sport, and in 2014 announced that she would be taking a break from tennis.

Barty then proceeded to play competitive cricket, representing Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League. She returned to tennis in 2016, after realising that she missed the sport too much.

Beginning at a world ranking of 623 at the beginning of 2016, Barty steadily climbed up the ladder in both singles and doubles on the WTA tour, and after the recent success of winning the French Open, is currently ranked No. 2 in the world.

Much has been written and said about Barty’s ups and downs, and the reasons and motivations for her choices and ultimate return to tennis. Determined, tenacious, honest, persistent and courageous are some of the words that have been used to describe Barty.

From my perspective, what has been equally highlighted, and in many ways exceeded her sporting achievements, is the manner in which she interacts with her world.

These are some words reflected by her friends, peers, coaches, sporting opponents and wider public, of which the world saw many in the recent fortnight in Paris. They include: humble, gracious, respectful, empathetic, thoughtful and kind.

Ash Barty has begun to rekindle my interest in tennis and provides a timely and enduring reminder to us all about the importance of healthy core personal values.

These are the sort of qualities that build, strengthen and sustain relationships and the communities in which we live. It is these qualities I wish for us all to continue to recognise and endeavour to be a part of our interactions regardless of our other abilities.