The Australian Olympic team have announced a record-breaking 11-player tennis team for the Tokyo Games, including Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios.
A sign of the strength of Australian tennis, the team is the largest Australia has ever sent to the Olympics after ten were sent to both Sydney 2000 and Rio 2016.
World number one Ash Barty is the main actor and arguably a strong gold medal chance.
The tournament will be the Olympic debut for Barty, one of the team’s eight tennis debutants.
Barty will become Australia’s first Indigenous tennis Olympian and she is eager to create her own legacy.
“I think making your first Olympic team, especially as an Australian, we have such a rich history and the Olympics is something I’ve always dreamed of and obviously super excited to come out and represent green and gold with the rest of the team, ”Barty said.
“It’s a massively united team and I can’t wait to be a part of it.
“Being in the Olympics is always a dream, as the young children you aspire to, and I think we have so many iconic Australian sport legends who have led the way for us.
“Now for me to have the chance to create my own legacy, my own guide for newcomers is really exciting.”
Barty will play both singles and doubles, teaming up with Storm Sanders of Western Australia.
“I’m excited to play both singles and doubles. Every opportunity you have to wear green and gold, I wanted to grab it with both hands, ”Barty said.
“I’m in good shape, I’m in good health, I’m delighted to play doubles with Storm, she’s a childhood friend of mine and we’ve played a lot together since we were young.
“So being able to live that dream with her is really, really special.”
Another rookie will be Alex de Minaur who recently reached his highest ranking in its history, reaching 15th in the world.
The 22-year-old says it has always been a dream to represent his country at the Olympics.
“It has always been my dream to be able to represent Australia at the Olympics, it’s an incredibly special feeling,” said De Minaur.
“I think we have a great tennis team all around, both men and women.
“Hopefully we can go out there and go deep and that’s what we’re going to try to do. We’ve got a great camaraderie and we’re going to push each other to do well.
“Preparation, anticipation brings a higher level of intensity and of course, passion.
“Playing for your country is always going to be very special, it’s going to be incredible.
“I can’t wait to go with all the other amazing athletes from Australia and hope to represent Australia and make Australia proud.”
For John Millman and John Peers, Tokyo will be their second Olympics after both competing in Rio in 2016.
However, the most experienced player on the team will be Sam Stosur. Tokyo is set to be its fifth Olympic Games after making its Athens debut in 2004.
Stosur will become one of the most decorated Australian Olympians of all time, with only two women representing the team at more Games than her five.
Mary Hanna (horseback riding) and Jian Fang Lay (table tennis) will both compete in their sixth Games in Tokyo.
Speaking about her selection, Stosur still didn’t believe she was playing enough tennis to be considered for the team at this point in her career.
“It’s super special to be able to represent your country in just one Olympics, not to mention five,” Stosur said.
“I can’t believe I’m going there yet at this point, but luckily I was able to keep going and get between London and Tokyo, which I never thought was on the cards.
“Being part of a larger Australian team is just another level of representation and there are so many amazing and fantastic athletes on the team every year.
“In elementary school, we did a time capsule. I went to school the first year it opened, and wrote there that I wanted to win a Grand Slam, be world number one and go to the Olympics.
“To have done two out of three, thinking when I was nine or 10, who would have thought, that’s something amazing.”
Another newbie in Tokyo will be Nick Kyrgios, 26.
Kyrgios has clearly expressed his love for team play and has excelled in previous tournaments for Australia in the Davis Cup. There is no doubt that the Olympics will bring out the best in him.
Ajla Tomljanovic will also represent Australia at the Games for the first time.
The 28-year-old spoke to Sports news during the summer of 2020 on how the Olympics was a goal for her to move forward.
“The Olympics is actually a really big goal for me this year to get there and go,” said Tomljanovic.
“It would be something I will never forget, now that I can be eligible I’m really excited for it.”
James Duckworth, Luke Saville, Ellen Perez and Storm Sanders will also make their Olympic debuts in Tokyo.
Alicia Molik will captain the women’s team while Jaymon Crabb will lead the men.
Ian Chesterman, chef de mission for the Australian Olympic team for Tokyo, was convinced that the team could generate a lot of success in Japan.
“It’s fantastic to announce our greatest Australian Olympic tennis team of all time,” said Chesterman.
“Over the years, many of our Australian tennis players have taken the opportunity to represent their country at the Olympics.
“Now these 11 players are adding to that story. They are a highly skilled team with a real opportunity to add to Australia’s Olympic history.
“I especially want to congratulate Sam Stosur on becoming the first Australian tennis player to qualify for five Olympic Games.
“She joins a select group of athletes who have been selected from five Australian Olympic teams. Creating a career that spans from Athens in 2004 to Tokyo in 2021 is a remarkable achievement.”
Barty, de Minaur, Millman and Stosur are the four athletes who will compete in the singles and doubles.
Kyrgios, Duckworth and Tomljanovic will play singles only, while Peers, Saville, Sanders and Perez will only play doubles.
The doubles pairs will be Minaur-Peers, Millman-Saville, Barty-Sanders and Stosur-Perez.
Australian Olympic tennis team for Tokyo
Ash Barty – Singles, Doubles
Alex de Minaur – Singles, Doubles
James Duckworth – Singles
Nick Kyrgios – Singles
John Millman – Singles, Doubles
John Peers – Double
Ellen Perez – Double
Storm Sanders – Double
Luc Saville – Double
Samantha Stosur – Single, Double
Ajla Tomljanovic – Singles