Unknown outside Australia but Priscilla Hon could be the key to Australia winning their first Fed Cup since 1974 this weekend in Perth.
Hon will probably partner World No.1 Ash Barty in the doubles, the tie that may well decide who wins closely this contested match-up.
Hon made a winning debut with Barty in doubles to help Australia beat the US in Asheville in February, and has since gone on to qualify for five WTA main draws in 2019 and set a career-best ranking of No.118 in October.
“Comparing when I first went to Asheville … the whole week (then) I was pretty nervous, every session trying to do my best,” Hon said today.
“Here we’re trying to prepare the best we can for our team to win on the weekend. We kind of know all the staff a bit better and the (other) players, so it’s always very comfortable.
“I grew up with Ash, since I was 12. I’ve always trained with her in the same place in Brisbane and I’ve always looked up to her – even when she had a break as well, we kept in touch quite a lot.
“It’s so inspirational for all of us, looking up to her and seeing what she can do and just seeing how professional she is every single day, it pushes us to want to do more.”
And fellow relatively unknown Astra Sharma is also looking forward to the weekend.
Like Hon, she has enjoyed a solid 2019, reaching a career-high ranking.
This time last year thew Perth-raised Sharma was ranked #225. In June she reached #85.
“To be able to be on the same court and try and learn from her (Ash) and see what she does, that’s an amazing opportunity, and I’m just really lucky to have that,” Sharma said.
“I think she keeps it pretty down-to-earth, like she’s not one to kind of go around being bigger than she is – she’s just a very normal person and you just kind of relate to how she trains by just watching and observing.
“We play very similarly. She’s definitely someone I look up to and respect.”
Barty was pictured at the press conference yesterday wearing a pair of indigenous earrings given to her by 11-year-old Perth boy Kale Stanton.
She told reporters she will wear them when she takes to the court.
“I will be wearing those at the weekend, which will be really cool,” she said.
“It was nice to just meet kids from schools, that is something I love to do.
“It is exciting to meet the next generation of players.”
The schoolboy sent the earrings in a letter to his tennis idol.
“Congratulations on finishing Number 1 and I am very excited to meet you and watch you play this weekend for Australia,” he wrote.
“You are a legend and proud Indigenous like me.”