A former cricketer in Ashleigh Barty has claimed her first WTA singles title in Malaysia after she made the move to return to her first love.
Barty is a former Wimbledon junior champion but decided to take a break from the game during her teenage years.
Barty decided to re-commit herself to the sport after a long time out. After more than a year, she has started receiving dividends of the decision by winning her first professional tennis tournament. She saw off six players before making it to the final. She defeated Japan international Nao Hibino in the final to lift the title in Kuala Lampur.
“I think it was very unexpected going into the week, we just wanted to come here and play some good tennis and maybe squeak out three-five matches, including doubles. Even if we didn’t walk away with a title, it would have been a fantastic week.
“We’re just really pumped and to get through so many matches with the body unscathed is pretty good too,” the 20-year old said after her victory.
Barty paired with Casey Dellacqua to win the doubles tournament, making it incredible for her since her return to pro tennis.
The victory would push her to the top 100 in the world rankings, aside the almost USD 50,000 in prize money. She played at Eastbourne in her first comeback tourney ten months ago and now she has reached a career-high of 92 on the rankings. She is set to make exploits in Indian Wells. Instead of stressing out during the qualification stages, she would be well positioned to make it to the Grand Slams if she continues at this rate.
It was really surprising that she decided to leave the sport after over USD500,000 in prize money before reaching 18. She moved to cricket, securing one of only 14 pro deals women could get in Queensland in 2015 but she found her way back to the sport.