By Grace Jones
ABBI Gibson is built for tennis.
The 12-year-old already stands at a towering 180cm and has been graced with agility and strength.
As one of the top tennis prospects for her age in Australia, she covers the court like a ballerina and swings her racquet like a sledgehammer.
Abbi has just returned from two weeks at the Canberra Tennis World Junior Open and spoke to The Weekender while shrugging off jetlag.
The bubbly Lawley Park Tennis Club product might have been blessed with right genes, but it soon becomes apparent it’s not all about jet-setting and natural talent.
She puts in nearly 20 hours a week on the court and in the gym to keep on top of her game.
“I put in a lot of effort,” Abbi said.
“I learn a lot from my mistakes, it makes me a stronger player.”
Abbi’s dad and coach, Colin Gibson, said he’s proud of how much his daughter had accomplished since picking up a racquet as a five-year-old, but the family has had to make some tough choices with funding support to cover the increasing cost of travel yet to flow through.
The only financial assistance Abbi receives is in the form of racquet sponsorship from Wilson.
“She’s had a pretty intense tennis experience,” Colin said.
“We decided mid-way through last term that she couldn’t keep up her training with her schooling without one suffering.
“She’s a competitive girl, so it made sense to start homeschooling her.
“Her NAPLAN results are all in good order, so she’s doing well to keep up with everything.”
Albany Tennis Academy Director David Kerr said the combination of raw talent and dedication set Abbi apart from the hundreds of players he has had through the academy.
“Abbi is in the top couple of kids for her age playing tennis in Australia,” he said.
“She’s only just turned 12, and for her to play like she does is phenomenal.
“She’s a little machine, tennis is in her genes.
“Not only is she focused, but she trains at the highest level of any junior we have seen come though the academy in the last 16 years.”
Abbi’s efforts are now focused on the December Showdown at Melbourne Park where the nation’s top young players compete for a golden ticket to the Australian Open.