Sienna O'Brien played her first and final tennis match on Monday, November 23.
"I think I've peaked, playing against Ash Barty," the Bomaderry High School student in NSW's Shoalhaven laughed.
Ms O'Brien found the time during her HSC year to organise a visit from the world champion tennis player, and said it was one of the most rewarding things she had done this year.
Inspired by her PDHPE teacher's passion for the star, Ms O'Brien reached out via email to see if Ms Barty would attend her class via Zoom.
"I didn't expect a response, but Ash did one better and offered to come in person," Ms O'Brien said.
Then came the hard work - she had to keep the upcoming visit a secret for months.
In the end it was all worth it.
"It was even better than I expected - I think [teacher Jenni Raison] got a bit overwhelmed when Ash walked into the classroom.
"I felt really good about the experience for the whole class."
PDHPE teacher Jenni Raison said she often uses Ash Barty as an example in lessons about athletes.
"She's a great example of an athlete who is resilient, works hard and tries different things," Mrs Raison said. "She's an outstanding role model on every level."
Despite the saying that you shouldn't meet your heroes, Mrs Raison said meeting Ms Barty was the highlight of the year for her class and herself.
"I thought the film crew were filming for a documentary about COVID-19," Mrs Raison said.
"When Ash popped up on a Zoom call that was enough of a surprise - for her to walk in the door was amazing.
"She was so genuine, she asked the kids about their year and their plans and was interested in their stories."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Ms Barty stayed to have a hit of tennis with the staff and students at Bomaderry High School, and Mrs Raison was her doubles partner.
"To play doubles with the world number one - I never imagined that would happen, especially this year," Mrs Raison said.
Mrs Raison said she was hugely proud of Ms O'Brien, who she described as a "hard-working, compassionate student, with plenty of initiative and great communication skills".
Ms O'Brien said while the challenges of 2020 had taught her resilience, her experience with Ash Barty had taught her something different: "If the mind can believe it, a human can achieve it."