TERRIFIC TEAM: World number one tennis player Archie Graham with coach Stan Cuthbert. Archie and another Ipswich world number one Ash Barty are inspiring kids in the city.
TERRIFIC TEAM: World number one tennis player Archie Graham with coach Stan Cuthbert. Archie and another Ipswich world number one Ash Barty are inspiring kids in the city. Inga Williams

Why Ash and Archie are world champions to be proud of

ASH and Archie. Two world number ones. Two ace achievers from Ipswich. Two humble role models.

Ipswich must be doing something right.

The highly respected Stan Cuthbert knows that as well as anyone.

Having coached and supported world number one Archie Graham for a decade, Cuthbert is thrilled to see another Ipswich tennis player Ash Barty also reach the top in tennis.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for the sport because it's creating a lot of interest with the young people,'' Cuthbert said.

"The numbers are increasing again after a bit of a lull.

"The city is lucky at this time as Ash Barty's success has really helped all the clubs.''

The Ipswich tennis stalwart with 50 years experience sees the resurgence of enthusiasm for tennis first-hand during his work at the Chermside Road courts on Saturday mornings.

 

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08: Ashleigh Barty of Australia kisses the trophy as she celebrates victory following the ladies singles final against Marketa Vondrousova of The Czech Republic during Day fourteen of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 08, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Newly-crowned world number one Ash Barty is receiving worldwide praise for her humble winning qualities. Clive Brunskill

But while Ash makes headlines around the world, Archie continues to impress in his People With Intellectual Impairment (PWII) tournaments.

Archie, 25, has won world singles titles in Ecuador (2015), United States (2016), UK (2017) and France (last year).

Like the latest Springfield-based tennis sensation Ash, Archie is a fantastic example for kids to emulate.

"He is a modest sort of bloke,'' Cuthbert said. "He's a good lad Archie.

"He goes to Brisbane and spends a lot of his own time helping the coaches when they have different days.

"Some of the younger kids are going to the tournaments because Archie does.''

 

Ipswich tennis player and world number one Archie Graham with the four medals he recently won at the INAS World Championships in Paris.
Archie Graham with the four medals he won at the 2018 INAS World Championships in Paris. David Lems

Archie's rise to world number one is a wonderful story. He took up tennis aged 15 to help him deal with Aspergers Syndrome, a condition where people have trouble interacting socially.

Archie quickly showcased his ability on the court with dedication and backed by a terrific Ipswich support network including his mother Claire and coaches like Cuthbert.

The Ipswich sportsman retained his top world ranking at last year's International Federation for Intellectual Disability Sport (INAS) championships in Paris.

Archie's next major event is the Global Games in Brisbane from October 12-19.

"He'll be pretty tough to beat in this one,'' Cuthbert said.

"His main aim is to get as much competition as he can before the actual event.''

That includes the Queensland Open titles starting this weekend at Tennyson. Archie will be top seed in the PWII tournament.

"He's probably playing 10 or 15 percent better than he's ever played,'' Cuthbert said.

"His game has matured. He's hitting the ball a lot harder.''

Archie recently won his Special Event at the Grafton Open, also making the main draw at a Gold Coast tournament.

Archie trains at the AIS in Brisbane each Tuesday, working with national coaches at the Tennyson centre.

"He's getting the benefit of that experience,'' Cuthbert said.

Earlier this year, Archie won the Tennis Australia award as the "Most Outstanding Athlete with a disability''.

Cuthbert works with Archie most afternoons at the Ipswich District Junior Tennis Association courts at Chermside Road.

Archie does extra training on the nearby hilly terrain in Queens Park.

"He's doing a lot of running and he's been focusing on his fitness level a lot more,'' Cuthbert said.

"Limestone oval has got a few footprints there that he's put there.''

City provides road to success

Cuthbert said having two world champions in the city showed that Ipswich was a positive tennis environment.

"We are lucky that we've got Tennis Queensland so close,'' he said. "They often drop in and have a yarn to us about their latest plans for the courts and they liaise with the council as well.

"Ipswich City Council have been pretty good to us too up there (Chermside Road facility) with the juniors. They support our centre pretty well.''