Australian young gun Ashleigh Barty sent the tennis world into a flurry late last year, after she announced she was taking a indefinite break from tennis, citing the need to spend time away from the game. Since this decision came just a month after the 15 year old's career best result (she qualified for the U.S. Open and won Junior Wimbledon), it was naturally a shock to any avid tennis follower. The latest news from the Australian's camp however, makes it perfectly clear that she has no intentions of returning to tennis in the near future, and has in fact found her passion in cricket instead!
Renowned Fed Cup captain, David Taylor, says that her sport change accentuates the isolation a player faces on the tennis tour, especially as a youngster. Barty recently signed with Brisbane Heat, for the inaugural women's Big Bash league, and Taylor feels that Ashleigh can easily translate her exceptional hand-eye coordination to cricket, and can easily thrive in cricket's team-orientated environment.
According to him, "tennis can be an incredibly lonely profession in the developmental years, especially for talented girls when they're forced to compete and travel with players much older and often with very little in common besides tennis. I'd imagine a team sport environment would seem a fair bit more enjoyable, especially through the tough times. Being a professional athlete isn't a normal thing and therefore the personal sacrifices to achieve this aren't normal either," he said. "Sure, there is much to be gained in terms of money and fame but also a lot is given up and therefore for some it simply isn't worth it."
Women's cricket hasn't found a massive audience yet, but it's slowly creeping up the popularity charts, especially in Australia. It's imperceptible though, compared to the ratings and millions of dollars that that tennis players rake in, year after year. So no matter how crazy the decision seems to transfer to an almost obscure sport, Barty feels that even the meager $10,000 she'll receive throughout the season is a bonus because she's playing the sport she loves.