Archie Graham says he is in awe of world number one Ash Barty. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
As Ash Barty looks to Wimbledon, another Ipswich local is preparing to defend his world title on the tennis court.
Archie Graham is currently the men’s singles world champion for Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment.
He has won the world title not once, but four times, proving the southern Queensland city of Ipswich produces world class tennis stars.
“I don’t know what’s in the water, it’s just a little town that produces big stars on the scene,” Graham said.
“We’re both from Ipswich and we’re both doing really well on our circuits.”
Archie Graham trains twice a day leading up to the championships. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Graham said he was in awe of his fellow-Ipswichian.
“It’s been quite remarkable what she has done going from clay to grass; that’s not easy to do with two different surfaces,” he said.
“I hope she goes all the way in Wimbledon. There’s no doubt in my mind that she has the game to do it.
The tennis star is looking forward to defending his title. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“She loves grass and she’ll be going in as number one in the sport … I hope she does it.”
The 25-year-old, who has Asperger’s syndrome, won his first world title in South America at the International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairment (INAS) Tennis World Championships, after a two-and-a-half-hour match.
“I was spent after that match, but I was so excited as well as it was my first time overseas,” Graham said.
“I was on my knees saying, ‘Yay, I won’.”
Motivated by his grandmother’s love of the game
Graham described himself as a late bloomer, coming to the sport at the age of 15.
“My grandmother loved tennis and her siblings played as well, so I thought I would give it a go and look at me now,” Graham said.
“It’s hard training at the moment, as I train six days a week for four hours each time on court.
Archie Graham is looking forward to playing on home turf in Queensland. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“You have to have a lot of passion for the sport you love and that’s what drives you further — to be better each and every time.”
He said his secret weapon was a combination of his serve and his forehand.
“When it comes to surfaces, the hard court is certainly my favourite surface — but I do train on grass too,” he said.
Defending his world title on home turf
After playing around the world — in Ecuador, the US, England and France — Graham hopes to win a fifth consecutive world title later this year in Brisbane.
Archie Graham trains with his team at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“I was thrilled to find out that we were hosting here in Brisbane this year,” he said.
“I really hope lots of people come out to watch me defend my title, it would mean a lot for me — especially with the home advantage.”
Graham’s sage advice for Barty
Being the world number one is not easy, but Graham’s advice to his fellow Ipswichian was to keep her head high.
Archie Graham hopes Ash Barty will stay strong in Wimbledon. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“Keep training hard, Ash, and show your passion that you show on court and you’ll keep the number one spot,” he said.
“Everyone wants to beat you when you’re number one, so you have to show no mercy and give it your all.”