Tennis youngster Catherine O'Loughlin, 8 at Ipswich Tennis Centre. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Tennis youngster Catherine O'Loughlin, 8 at Ipswich Tennis Centre. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Ipswich’s darling a model for young tennis players

FOR tennis coach Beau Devlin, the rise of homegrown champion Ash Barty has given his students the perfect professional to model themselves on.

It’s also made his task of moulding future stars a lot easier.

The Ipswich Tennis Centre owner said the world number one was a breath of fresh air, providing young players with a top performer always at the top of her game to idolise, both on and off the court.

He believed the antics of Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios too often stole the headlines and younger Australian players had been missing a “genuine competitor” to look up to for a generation.

Beau and Kirstie Devlin with Rock Devlin, 3, Catherine O'Loughlin, 8, Elsie Murray, 9, and Violet Murray, 8 at Ipswich Tennis Centre.Picture: Cordell Richardson
Beau and Kirstie Devlin with Rock Devlin, 3, Catherine O'Loughlin, 8, Elsie Murray, 9, and Violet Murray, 8 at Ipswich Tennis Centre.Picture: Cordell Richardson

That is until Springfield-raised Barty took her place as one of the world’s best.

“We haven’t had one in a while,” he said.

“Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter, they were genuine competitors. Between then and now there hasn’t been that sort of person come through.

“Kids don’t know who they are. If I brought up Pat Rafter they’d just think of the Pat Rafter Arena, as if he’s some ancient dinosaur.

“I have not had a person to actually point to that kids would know. John Millman and a few young guys have been fantastic but the kids don't know them. It’s no different to pointing to the court next door (in the centre) and saying ‘look at that adult’.

“They don’t really care, they’re not high in the ranks. They don’t look at them as a valid role mode.”

As well as running the Tivoli centre, Mr Devlin coaches at schools around Ipswich with the largest portion of his students between Prep and 17 years of age.

Although he said Barty’s ascension hadn’t had an impact on student numbers, which had stayed steady over the past few years, it was telling on already keen players.

It was having the biggest positive impact in their early teens with the desire to one day go pro, he said.

“It genuinely makes my job easier because I can point to someone (as a role model),” Mr Devlin said.

Tennis youngsters Catherine O'Loughlin, 8, Patrick O'Loughlin, 5 and Rock Devlin, 3. at Ipswich Tennis Centre. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Tennis youngsters Catherine O'Loughlin, 8, Patrick O'Loughlin, 5 and Rock Devlin, 3. at Ipswich Tennis Centre. Picture: Cordell Richardson

“It’s a very enjoyable thing to coach when we’ve got someone like her leading the charge.”

He said it was Barty’s attitude was as integral to her success as her technique.

“She’s got a very, very cool head,” he said.

“You never see her take the court and not give it 100 per cent.

“She is not one of the best tennis players of all time from a technical stand point. That doesn’t matter. She gives everything.

“She gets in and does her job. She’s a consummate professional. She was like that from a young age. She still loses but look how she loses. She’s still competing.”


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