CHILD tennis prodigy Kim Whitty is set to return to competition in the Ballina New Year Open after more than a decade in competitive exile.
A Ballina girl, Whitty spent her childhood and teenage years training to become a pro but lost her way when the normalcy and routine of adult life kicked in.
From a family of tennis players, the now 30-year-old lived for tennis as a teen and represented North Coast and NSW with distinction.
“I grew up playing tennis in Ballina, training every day and playing every weekend,” Whitty said.
“It was my life as a teenager.”
As she grew older priorities changed and tennis took a back seat to studies as life went in a new direction.
“It wasn’t a conscious thing to give it away, it just happened slowly over time,” she said.
“I moved to Newcastle to go to uni and was very busy with that.”
Whitty completed a degree in radiography and moved on to Brisbane where shift work would impede her love of tennis.
“Working those hours as a 20- and 21-year-old you just don’t have the time for tennis,” she said.
“I had a few social games but I couldn’t join a club or anything.”
From Brisbane, professional life took Whitty to the United Kingdom, where she stayed for two years, before spending snow seasons in Aspen in the United States.
She dabbled in triathlon and snowboarding, but eventually her calling for the tennis courts would come.
Now back in her home town of Ballina and settled after 12 months, Whitty feels the time is right to again pick up the racquet.
“Just being back here it felt like the thing to do,” she said.
“I don’t have any expectations going in to the tournament – it is always a strong field, but I am looking forward to getting out there.”
After 10 years without a competitive match there are sure to be some tennis-specific muscles crying out when Whitty hits the court today, but from beyond the white lines she will no doubt hear the cries of support from her tennis-mad family.
Play at the Ballina Tennis Club starts today at 9am, with the finals on Sunday.