'I am speechless, I am just really proud'

Australia's Destanee Aiava celebrates after winning her first-round match against Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the USA at the Brisbane International.
Australia's Destanee Aiava celebrates after winning her first-round match against Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the USA at the Brisbane International. DAVE HUNT

DESTANEE Aiava has written her name into the record books by becoming the first player born this century to win a WTA match.

The 16-year-old's maiden 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory came over wily American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands in front of a parochial crowd on court one at the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

She will make further history later this month where, as an Australian Open wildcard, she will also become the first player born in the 2000s to appear in the main draw of a grand slam.

Aiava is your typical teenager. She has confessed to being starstruck each time she has entered the locker rooms and come face-to-face with her idols.

But she is not your typical teenage tennis prodigy.

Against the production line-like stream of eastern Europeans is a Melbourne teenager with Samoan parents who, together, are doing it their own way.

Mum takes care of the tennis, dad the fitness. Both preach hard work.

After Tuesday's win she was whisked straight off to a practice court for a serving session.

Which is why even though her victory can be considered an upset, it came as no surprise to the Aiava camp.

Although generally considered a double specialist, Mattek-Sands has a career high singles ranking of 30 and close to $5 million in career prizemoney.

Aiava provided the quote of the tournament after qualifying on Sunday when she revealed her parents had to undertake a crash course in tennis when, as a five-year-old, she first declared she wanted to be world No.1 after watching Serena Williams win the Australian Open on TV.

"It shows if you practice something long enough and hard enough you become better at it,” father Mark said.

"That is all it has been about, trying to educate ourselves to make sure we do the preparations right.”

While his daughter seems to be taking it all in her stride, Mark was unable to hold back tears when she held her nerve to close out the rain-interrupted match that began the day before.

"I am speechless, I am just really proud,” he said.

"Her mum and the support team around her have been great and the support she has received here means a lot to her and the whole family.

"She is a humble person and she continues to keep her feet grounded, but this is a proud moment for her and for everyone else who means a lot to her.”


Topics:  brisbane international destanee aiava summer of tennis

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