When French Open champ Ashleigh Barty took Mildura by storm

BEFORE she was a grand slam champion, she was a Mildura Grand Tennis International champion.

Ashleigh Barty’s sensational French Open victory in the early hours of Sunday captivated many Australians – particularly those who remember her achievements on the Mildura Lawn Tennis Club courts.

At the 2011 Grand Tennis International, the 14-year-old wildcard from Queensland didn’t take long to leave an impression.

Barty pulled off a first-round upset of the No.1 seed, Japan’s Kumiko Iijima – in straight sets, no less.

"You can tell Ashleigh Barty is going to be a superstar, she mixes her power shots and her fine shots really well. You don’t want to put too much pressure on her but it looks like she is going to be an absolute champion."

Then Mildura Lawn Tennis Club committee member Mark Vorwerk in 2012

While she didn’t go on to win that tournament, she would return to claim the 2012 title, which at the time was just her second win on the pro circuit.

Many who saw her knew she was on her way to great things.

Mildura’s John Arnold, treasurer of the Fed Cup Foundation, said Barty’s success showed the calibre of player the region was able to support through its Pro Tour tournament.

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