Mildura tennis enthusiast John Arnold has waited seven years to fulfil a promise to Australia’s rising tennis star Ashleigh Barty.
Because of his interest in Tennis Australia events in Mildura Mr Arnold- at the time a Mildura Rural City Councillor – was invited to join the Tennis Federation and in 2010 became a Board member.
For the past week Mr Arnold was in Canberra in his capacity as a member of the Federation Cup Foundation committee, which fills a number of roles including marketing, sponsorship and the distribution of scholarships to promising young male and female tennis players.
He is the current treasurer of the Foundation and during the Fed Cup competition won by Australia 3-2 made a separate presentation to Miss Barty, in addition to the presentation of crystal globes made to her and Destanee Alava to recognise their commitment to Australian tennis.
At the official International Tennis Federation dinner held at the Canberra Arboretum Mr Arnold handed over an item he had obtained successfully at a tennis auction back in the year 2012.
It was during a Breakfast with the Stars event in Sydney that Mr Arnold was the successful bidder for an item of tennis memorabilia which was offered to raise money for the Foundation.
He had became friends with retired tennis player Judy Dalton (formerly Judy Tegart) was runner-up in the 1968 Wimbledon women’s singles, won nine grand slams and a heap of major doubles events including the 1971 American Doubles Championship with Margaret Court.
Mrs Dalton told Mr Arnold that one of the auction items was the umpires card from when Ash Barty beat Russian player Irina Khromacheva in the 2011 Wimbledon Junior singles.
“The card shows how the match was scored and had been framed as tennis memorabilia and at the time I bought it another former tennis star Ken Rosewall was in attendance so I asked if he would sign the back of it,” Mr Arnold said.
“And he did – writing to a future star,” he said.
“Then I asked Ash Barty to sign the back of it as well – she had never seen the scorecard before and also read what Rosewall had written.”
“It was then that I said to her that if she ever became the number one Australian women’s tennis player I would surrender the scorecard to her.”
“So in Canberra the other night when the crystal globes were presented to those players, including Ms Barty, who had not previously received one, I made the additional presentation.”
And Ms Barty certainly did not let Australia down, winning both her single games in the Federation Cup encounter and being a member of the matchwinning doubles combination
Ironically Ms Khromacheva is also playing Australia at present – over the weekend she had been competing in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) women’s tournament at Launceston in Tasmania.
The Russian – who has a 192 world ranking - bowed out of the Launceston tournament when she retired mid-way through the second set of her match against American Asia Mohammad, who has a world ranking of 272.
“Ash Barty is going to be a star,” Mr Arnold said. “I believe she will one day be the number one female tennis player in the world – she never gives up.”
Ashleigh Barty is currently Australia’s number one women’s player with a Women’s Tennis Association ranking of 17.