Ace time: Retired tennis star Ash Barty with, from left, Mamoru Taniya, Ben McLachlan, Noa and Dan Milburn and Gota Ishii

Not many tennis tyros can say they’ve had a hit-out with a former world no.1.

Queenstown brothers Dan, 16, and Noa Milburn, 14, enjoyed that privilege last Sunday when they rallied with retired Aussie superstar Ash Barty, who won three grand slam titles and was ranked world no.1 for singles for 121 weeks overall.

Barty was in town to play the New Zealand Open golf tourney at Arrowtown’s Millbrook as a celebrity amateur and readily agreed, at short notice, to pick up a racket for a keenly-watched hit-out on the resort’s main tennis court.

Also in the hit-out were Queenstown-raised tennis doubles pro Ben McLachlan, Millbrook managing director and tennis fanatic Gota Ishii and Ishii’s friend and prominent Japanese businessman, Mamoru Taniya.

Dan and Noa’s dad, Mark, who’s also their coach, says they were ‘‘very excited’’ to be mixing it with Barty.

‘‘It takes a lot out of you just thinking you’re going to have to front up and play against an ex-no.1 in the world.

‘‘I overheard her saying the form on their shots and their serve looked really good.’’

That form’s certainly taking the boys places.

Noa last month won the inaugural under-14 clay court nationals at Martinborough, in the Wairarapa, and has been named in the NZ U14 team to play a teams event in Malaysia this month.

Dan, for his part, is a good prospect to make the NZ Junior Davis Cup team that’s playing in Kazakhstan in May.

The boys’ elder brother, Kai, 17, captained that team last year.

Meanwhile, Queenstown Tennis Club’s holding another fundraising tournament for Kai on April 6, following an exhibition match between him and McLachlan the night before.

In January, Kay won his first three International Tennis Federation junior singles titles, raising his world U18 ranking from about 300 to 175.

Mark says the fundraiser’s aimed at raising ‘‘a little more money to get Kai away to some international tournaments so hopefully he can get his ranking up so he can feed into those junior grand slams [like Wimbledon and the US Open]’’.

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