Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative
Petrolia’ Sarah Barry 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 the 26 year-old 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 to work out daily. She then began taking lessons at the Sarnia Tennis Club. Barry started going to tournaments at 12, in both Canada and the United States. She went on make the United States Tennis Association Junior Team Nationals and placing second in the country.
At 17, Barry suffered a setback. She started panicking during matches, she was insecure and was suffering from low self esteem. When she was offered a full tennis scholarship to a US school, she turned it down. It was devastating to her.
Then, her father bought tickets for the 2019 Roger Cup. It sparked something in her and she realized she wanted to pursue her dream of playing professional tennis.
Her partner, Bernardo Teixeira, began working with her to improve her fitness and working on her footwork. Teixeira 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. Bourassa died in 2021 at the hands of police in an alley in London.
“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 Barry 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, she has to has no time to waste.
As Barry reaches for her goal, she’s encouraging other young people struggling with mental health issues not to be afraid or ashamed to reach out and talk to someone.