Launceston tennis prodigy Ben Barnett follows in his grandfather's Pardey Shield footsteps 75 years later

BACK IN THE FAMILY: Brothers Guy and Mark Barnett point out their dad's name on a 1942 Pardey Shield plaque that was won by Guy's son and John Barnett's grandson, Ben, on Easter Monday. Picture: Phillip Biggs.
BACK IN THE FAMILY: Brothers Guy and Mark Barnett point out their dad's name on a 1942 Pardey Shield plaque that was won by Guy's son and John Barnett's grandson, Ben, on Easter Monday. Picture: Phillip Biggs.

Fulfilling a family legacy has been in the back of Ben Barnett’s mind for as long as the state’s top tennis junior can ever remember.

But finally years after hearing stories of grandeur about his late grandfather’s feats on the court, the 17-year-old matched John Barnett’s place on one of Tasmania’s most prestigious tennis trophies.

“My gran always told me that he could place a ball on a twenty cent piece,” Barnett spoke of his grandfather. 

“So I’ve always had that on my mind. Ever since I was a little guy playing, I’ve always wanted to win it, watching all the older guys win it.”

In his last eligible year for the Pardey Shield – awarded to Tasmania’s best under-age player over Easter – Barnett claimed a focused 6-0, 6-2 win over Ruben McCormack in an all-Launceston final.

WELL DONE: Ruben McCormack congratulates Ben Barnett at the conclusion of the Pardey Shield final. Picture: Phillip Biggs.

WELL DONE: Ruben McCormack congratulates Ben Barnett at the conclusion of the Pardey Shield final. Picture: Phillip Biggs.

Lifting the heavy prize was just rewards for a loss in last year’s corresponding final.

The title was made the more special in the Shield’s 100th year and some three quarters of a century on since the Barnett name was first richly etched into the annals of tennis in the state.

“It means a lot to me and it should mean a lot to every person who wins it,” he said.

But Barnett found the junior final a distraction on the last day of the Tasmanian Easter Championships.

The Pardey Shield was one of his three finals at the Launceston Regional Tennis Centre, including the 2017 AMT men’s singles decider – also against McCormack.

DETERMINED: Ben Barnett looks to execute a slicing backhand in the Pardey Shield boys final. Picture: Phillip Biggs.

DETERMINED: Ben Barnett looks to execute a slicing backhand in the Pardey Shield boys final. Picture: Phillip Biggs.

“It was just really hard to prioritise one over the other – I tried my best in both of them,” he said.

“But I definitely played my better tennis in the second (Pardey) final, which was more important to me anyway.

“I was definitely a lot more positive, and up and about, I guess – I was pretty down in the first match and struggled to get energised.”