TRACKSUITS and boxing gloves aren’t regulation training kit for an Australian summer of tennis but they are Brisbane International qualifier Destanee Aiava’s secret tools.
There is nothing standard about the Melbourne 16-year-old of Samoan heritage who spent the summer alternating between smashing tennis balls and pounding boxing bags, all while rugged up in her winter trackies.
Aiava on Sunday muscled her way past German Carina Witthoeft 6-1, 6-1 having not dropped a set in two previous qualifiers but will need to call on that superior fitness on Monday when she plays her fourth match in as many days.
While Canadian glamour girl Eugenie Bouchard was forced to call for a heat time-out in her round one match loss on centre court, Aiava barely raised a sweat thanks to her unique preparation.
“I’m kind of used to it now, I acclimatised myself to the weather,’’ she said.
‘‘So, like, I trained in trackies in around 30 degrees, to get used to it.’’
Aiava is coached by her mother Rosie, a former rugby player and kickboxer, who was forced into a crash course on tennis when her five-year-old daughter became inspired by watching Serena Williams’ Australian Open triumph on television.
The year was 2005 when Williams won the second of her six titles at Melbourne Park.
“I was watching the Oz Open on TV and I was watching Serena, and I was like ‘I want to become No. 1 in the world’,’’ she said.
“And they’re like, ‘Oh, tennis?’. They were like, ‘Oh, we didn’t know anything about tennis’.’’
Aiava produced one of the most entertaining press conferences in BI history on Sunday when she pulled off a role reversal and with a broad smile gave an appraisal of Rosie’s progress as a coach.
“Yeah. She’s been watching my training, so I think she’s learned a lot,’’ she said.
“So, yeah, that helps a lot.
“She’s really hard on me, but I think that helps a lot.
‘‘So I don’t get too complacent, you know.’’
Her dad Mark also helps.
A former powerlifter, he is also a mixed martial arts coach who regularly puts her through a fighter’s workout.
“He just takes me through boxing, as well as cardio. I don’t really get in the ring.’’
Aiava has won several junior events including the Longines Future Tennis Aces in Paris where her prize was the chance to train with Steffi Graf.
She has been granted a wildcard into the main draw of the Australian Open later this month.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon junior finalist Alex De Minaur is the latest Aussie to qualify into the main draw of the Brisbane International.
The Spain-based teenager won his final qualifier 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 6-4 against American Frances Tiafoe who has been granted a wildcard into the Australian Open.
De Minaur, 17, has spent the past months working closely with former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt who praised his work ethic.
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