By Jacki-Lee Munckton
The rev of the engine. The dead silence before a serve. That final minute mark. Read why these three Perth sports superstars have every sporting fanatic and the nation as a whole jumping up from their chairs.
As an avid go – karter during his youth, it was a natural progression for the twenty – four year old to end up where he is now – as one of the nation’s youngest and most promising professional racing car drivers.
After displaying consistent performances and success throughout the Formula Renault, Formula Three and Formula Renault 3.5 series, Ricciardo was chosen as the replacement for legend Mark Webber at Infiniti Red Bull Racing at the beginning of the 2014 Formula One season.
As part of the season, to date, the Perth youngster has shone, winning both the Canadian and Hungarian Grand Prix, even beating team mate Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion. Although still relatively new to the pro realm, Ricciardo has already been hailed by many industry experts as the future of Australian pro – racing.
As his dad Joe jokes, “Yes, they’re trying to claim him in Italy, but his roots are here and he’s got the Aussie flag on his helmet.”
Ricciardo after winning the Belgian Grand Prix – August 2014
Ricciardo racing for Infiniti Red Bull at the Spanish Grand Prix – May 2014
When it comes to women’s tennis, Casey Dellacqua takes the cake as Perth’s rising star. Always being an active member of local tennis clubs and teams, at the tender age of sixteen she headed to Canberra to train with the Australian Institute of Sport.
Dellacqua’s breakthrough came on home soil in 2008 when she reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. The performance secured her the prestigious title of Australia’s highest ranked female tennis player, surpassing Alicia Molik.
Plagued by a string of injury troubles and surgery throughout 2009 and 2010, she returned fighting, taking out the 2011 French Open Mixed Doubles Championship alongside American Scott Lipsky – her first ever win in a grand slam.
Following continual solid success and growth, Dellacqua now finds herself ranked at a career high of No. 29 - and the only way is up!
Casey Dellacqua & Scott Lipsky celebrate their French Open Mixed Doubles win
Dellacqua after defeating Karolina Pliskova during the 2014 US Open
No doubt about it, Nic Nat (as he’s favourably come to be known by) is the most recognisable face in WA footy and perhaps the AFL itself.
After playing impressively for the Swan Districts in the WAFL and being fiercely pursued by several AFL clubs, Naitanui was eventually snapped up by the West Coast Eagles in the 2008 National Draft.
Standing at an impressive 201cm, the youngster quickly became one of the most exciting and promising new players of the game that constantly has the nation talking. So much so that he was honoured with a nomination for the NAB Rising Star Award in 2010, which was followed up with him earning his first All Australian Team nomination in late 2012.
Off the footy pitch, Naitanui recognises his community duty and takes pride in being one of the eleven Australia Post AFL multicultural ambassadors. “I know in my own childhood, as someone who was a little different to most other kids, footy was a great integration tool for me. Hopefully, with an even more diverse society now, I can help kids belong,” he says.
Naitanui soars above the rest – West Coast Eagles v Carlton Round 14, 2011
Nic Nat proud to be one of the AFL’s key multicultural ambassadors