Tennis player hoping to get first WTA points

Petrolia’ Sarah Barry, 26, has come a long way since she was introduced to tennis by her father at the age of 8. There have been many ups and downs throughout her journey, but Barry now finds herself in a national ranking of 33 in Canada. He goal is to get her first professional points and get a Women’s Tennis Association ranking on the world stage.

“I had tried other sports like soccer and swimming and while I did like these sports, there was something different about tennis. I was immediately drawn to it and wanted to play every day,” said Barry, who is now playing in the International Tennis Federation tournaments.

Her father made her a tennis wall in her basement where she committed to hit ball on the wall everyday. She then began taking lessons at the Sarnia Tennis Club. She started playing in tournaments at the age of 12, in both Canada and the United States. She then went on make the United States Tennis Association Junior Team Nationals and placing second in the country.

It was during this time she developed low self-esteem and insecurities. This interfered with her play on the court, and in some instances she panicked during matches.

At 17, Barry was offered a full tennis scholarship to a school in the United States. She declined this offer due to her mental health and she stopped playing tennis. This was devastating to her.

This was about to change for Barry as her father bought tickets for them to watch the 2019 Roger Cup. This sparked something in her and she realized she wanted to pursue her dream of playing professional tennis.

Her partner Bernardo began working with her to improve her fitness and working on her footwork. Bernardo is now her full-time coach. “Having my partner as a coach has helped me a lot,” said Barry. “I feel comfortable with him, so I can express concerns I have, freely and with confidence.”

During the pandemic, the couple moved back to Petrolia to live with Barry’s parents. She began working with her friend, Justin Bourassa to help improve her skills. Unfortunately Bourassa passed away in October 2021.

“His death has made me more determined to succeed, but more than that, I feel sad he isn’t here to see the progress I have made,” said Barry. It took her nearly a year to get back into competitive form, but getting back into tennis in her 20s, has made her realize, she doesn’t have much time to learn from her mistakes, and she has to make sure she does as many things as she can correctly, so she doesn’t waste time.

Her advice to another young person who might be struggling with her mental health, she says not to be afraid or ashamed to reach out and talk to someone.

Blake Ellis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent