At the tender age of 21, Ashleigh Barty is finishing the year as Australia’s highest-ranked tennis player—for both women and men. As the world #17 (minor detail, she began the year at #271), Ashleigh is one to watch at her home tournament at the Australian open this month. Talk about a stellar 2017, eh? We were lucky enough to tear Ashleigh away from her intense training schedule for a chat.

Congratulations on finishing number 1 in Australia—how does it feel?

Finishing the year as number 1 Aussie was definitely unexpected but is something I’m so proud of—it’s such an exciting time in Australian tennis as there are so many talented players in our country right now.

Could you talk us through a typical day of training?

At the moment, in pre-season, I start early with a few hours on court with my coach, working on different parts of my game each day and often hitting with one of the other girls. After a quick lunch break I hit the gym for a fitness session—weights, bike, circuit, yoga or whatever my fitness trainer has in store. Depending on how I’m feeling I might also have a massage/physio session to prepare my body to do it all again the next day. During a tournament, I do a lot less off court work and structure my on-court practice sessions around my match schedule.

Playing sport at an elite level is an incredible commitment and can become taxing, what advice do you have for other women looking to explore a sporting career?

Enjoy what you do, have balance and always make time for family and friends. Everyone is different but I think you need to learn what makes you happy and prioritise that—for me it is having regular trips home to get me through the long year of travel.

What is your favourite competition to play in?

Playing for Australia in the Fed Cup – representing my country and being part of a team are two things I love. We have the strongest Aussie team in years and I can’t wait to kick things off in February 2018 in Canberra at our first home tie.

Tell us about your preparation for the Australian Open?

I finished my 2017 season in Zhuhai, China in early November and after a few weeks of rest, I was into pre-season training for 2018. From late November, I’ve been working hard with my coach and fitness team on and off the court to make sure I’m best prepared for the Aussie summer. My first tournament of the year is my home event, the Brisbane International, followed by the Sydney International and then the Australian Open. Unfortunately, as tennis players we don’t get much time off but I feel very lucky we get to spend these few months at home.

Just quickly before we let you get back to the court, fave workout to get tennis-fit?

I love to mix up my conditioning training with bike, boxing and different circuits to keep it stimulating and challenging.

Overall tips for playing a mean game of tennis?

Be confident in your game, vary your shots and take one point at a time.

Check out Ash’s tennis tips in the February edition of the magazine.