Young gun Ashleigh Barty has capped a remarkable comeback season by winning Australia's top tennis award, the Newcombe Medal.
Barty beat fellow finalists Daria Gavrilova, Nick Kyrgios, John Peers and Jordan Thompson to claim her first Newcombe medal.
The 21-year-old started the 2017 season ranked 271st in the world, but now sits at No.17 in the world after a simply brilliant season.
Barty, who fell out of love with the game, quit tennis in 2014, taking an 18 month break, during which time she played WBBL cricket with the Brisbane Heat.
Upon her return to the sport, she re-found her passion for tennis and clinched her maiden WTA title in Kuala Lumpur.
She also reached the final in Birmingham and Wuhan and the French Open doubles quarterfinal with compatriot Casey Dellacqua.
In her acceptance speech, Barty paid tribute to Dellacqua, as well coach Craig Tyzzer.
“She’s my best mate but I don’t think she quite understands how much of a massive impact she’s had on my on life,” Barty said.
“Bringing me back into the sport to be honest, she started the ball rolling again to finish unfinished business in doubles.
“Case is my best friend, my mum on tour, my shoulder to cry on through many times and she helped me through my darkest days.”
“‘Tyzze’, what we’ve been able to achieve this year is pretty amazing.
“Starting from zero last year and 18 months later we’re here. We made it, we sort of did it.
“It’s been a really special year.”
Barty is now the highest ranked Australian player in the world.
FULL AWARD WINNERS
- Newcombe Medal: Ashleigh Barty
- Spirit of Tennis: John Cain
- Coaching excellence high performance: Craig Tyzzer
- Coaching excellence club: Helen Rice
- Coaching excellence talent development: Luke Bourgeois (Homebush, NSW)
- Female junior athlete of the year: Destanee Aiava
- Male junior athlete of the year: Alex De Minaur
- Most outstanding athlete with a disability: Archie Graham
- Volunteer achievement award: James Edwards
- Most outstanding 35+ tennis senior: Ros Balodis
- Excellence in officiating: Emma Walter
- Most outstanding club: Boroondara Tennis Centre
- Most outstanding Australian ranking tournament: Melbourne Wheelchair Tennis Open 2017
- Most outstanding professional tournament: Mildura Grand Tennis International 2017
- Most outstanding school: Riverton Primary School