BRISBANE Heat women’s cricket team members hope they played a part in Ash Barty’s tennis renaissance.
Since May, Barty has gone from having no ranking to No.92. She won her first WTA Tour title last Sunday in Kuala Lumpur.
The 20-year-old from Ipswich will not defend a rankings point for almost three months after outperforming all reasonable hopes for a comeback after 17 months off the WTA Tour.
Barty, the first Australian other than Sam Stosur to win a WTA title since Jelena Dokic in 2011, said in Kuala Lumpur that the success felt like the “tip of the iceberg’’.
Barty has remained in contact on social media with many of the cricketers who welcomed her into the Heat and Queensland Fire squads in late 2015, almost a year after the homesick teenager left the WTA Tour due to its pressures.
The natural sportswoman played as a middle-order batswoman in a handful of WBBL games in late 2015 before she had meetings with Tennis Australia in January last year about a plan for a comeback to tournament tennis.
“I’m pleased Ash was able to be a part of the Brisbane Heat and hope we played a part in her reaching her best in tennis,’’ Heat and Australian player Jess Jonassen said.
“To win her first WTA title means she is in a really good spot and enjoying her tennis again.
“Now she’s in the top 100 in the world after such a short period of time, it’s pretty exciting to see where she can go in tennis, even in this next season.
“She’s a really hard worker and disciplined, so that will take her a long way.’’
Fire coach Andy Richards said last year that Barty had the cricket skills to rise through the levels of the sport and become an international and she would be welcomed back if she wanted to give cricket another try.
Barty wins maiden title0:42
Tennis: Australian Ash Barty has won her maiden WTA tour event in Malaysia.
Jonassen, wicketkeeper Beth Mooney and other Heat teammates were in New Zealand last weekend without access to telecasts of Barty’s matches in Malaysia, where she lost only one set in five matches after winning through qualifying.
“There’s been a few messages of congratulations. She’s friendly with a lot of the girls,’’ Mooney said.
“I know how proud we are of her at Queensland cricket. She is regarded highly in Australian sport. Everyone is happy for her.’’
While wages for Australia’s best female cricketers have improved in the past year, her former teammates were impressed by Barty’s prizemoney for a week’s work in Kuala Lumpur of $US49,150 for winning the singles and, with Casey Dellacqua, the doubles title.
“It’s a pretty handy pay packet,’’ Mooney said.
Barty, who was ranked No.272 at the start of the year, received messages of congratulations from admirers including former Wimbledon champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Daria Gavrilova, Lizette Cabrera and Todd Woodbridge following her final win over Japan’s Nao Hibino.
Barty was unable to play singles qualifying for the WTA Indian Wells tournament which began on Thursday due to her Kuala Lumpur run.
Barty and Dellacqua entered doubles in Indian Wells, with Barty, now Australia’s third-ranked woman, next engaged in singles at the WTA Miami event later this month.
Originally published as Heat hit-outs a ton of help for Barty