Even in retirement tennis champion Ash Barty is dominating her sport, crowned the Newcombe Medal winner for a record fifth consecutive year at the Australian Tennis Awards in Melbourne on Monday night.
Barty’s stunning victory in winning her home grand slam the Australian Open in Melbourne last January was undoubtedly the biggest highlight in a huge year for Aussie tennis stars which also include doubles grand slam victories and a Wimbledon final for Nick Kyrgios.
Barty was crowned the winner for the fifth straight year at the awards ceremony at Palladium at Crown for her undefeated 2022 season which included 11 straight singles wins to tournament titles in Adelaide and Melbourne plus a doubles triumph.
Her greatest triumph, however, was her Melbourne Park campaign where Barty did not drop a set all tournament to become the first Australian women’s singles champion in 44 years and claim her third career grand slam singles title.
But the 26-year-old shocked the world just a few months later when she suddenly quit the sport, unable to find the motivation to keep performing at the highest level or return to Wimbledon to defend the crown she won in 2021.
“I’m so grateful to everything that tennis has given me; it’s given me all of my dreams, plus more,” said Barty.
But it was at Wimbledon where Barty’s claim for the Newcombe Medal faced arguably the biggest threat as Kyrgios finally delivered the form to match the hype.
The controversial men’s star could in fact be considered somewhat unlucky not to be Newcombe Medal winner given his enormous breakthrough across the entire 2022 season.
He claimed an Australian Open doubles win with Thanasi Kokkinakis and from there his singles performances skyrocketed including an epic journey before losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic and a win over world No.1 Daniil Medvedev at the US Open.
Had Kyrgios been able to convert either of those grand slam efforts into tournament wins, the world No.22 would justifiably have upset the Barty honour roll.
In all there were seven nominees for the Newcombe Medal, including Alex de Minaur, Matt Ebden, Storm Hunter, Max Purcell and Ajla Tomljanovic.
In a symbolic moment, Barty was able to reverse one of the most treasured moments of her career by presenting the Spirit of Tennis award to her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley on Monday night.
Few could ever forget Barty’s shock when Goolagong Cawley wandered onto Rod Laver Arena after her grand slam win to present the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. The roles were reversed when the Indigenous icon’s work with her own foundation was recognised by Tennis Australia and Barty was on stage to pass on the award.
Full list of Australian Tennis Award winners
Newcombe Medal: Ash Barty (Qld)
Spirit of Tennis: Evonne Goolagong Cawley (NSW)
Coaching Excellence – Club: David Grainger, Henley South Tennis Club (SA)
Coaching Excellence – Development: Luke Bourgeois, Voyager Tennis Academy (NSW)
Coaching Excellence – Performance: Craig Tyzzer (Vic)
Excellence in Officiating: Robyn Tucker (SA)
Female Junior Athlete of the Year: Talia Gibson (WA) and Taylah Preston (WA)
Male Junior Athlete of the Year: Edward Winter (SA)
Most Outstanding Athlete with a Disability: Heath Davidson (Vic)
Most Outstanding Tennis Club: Collaroy Tennis Club (NSW)
Most Outstanding Professional Tournament: Euroa Lawn Tennis Club Labour Day (Vic)
Most Outstanding School: Aitken Creek Primary School (Vic)
Most Outstanding 35+ Tennis Senior: Jarrod Broadbent (Vic)
Volunteer Achievement Award: Julie Polkinghorne (SA)
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