How did you get into tennis? I got into tennis through Mum. Mum used to play local fixtures and competitions out in the Lockyer valley. I was then invited to be a part of a team at the Forrest Hill Tennis club many years ago. I was 12 when I started playing fixtures and from there, I transitioned into tournaments and a whole bunch of different opportunities became available to me off the back of that.
Can you please give us a brief overview of your playing career? By the time I was 14 I started making some quarterfinals of tournaments and 16 making semis and winning some of the smaller tournaments. At 18 I was the No. 1 junior player in Queensland and had the opportunity to go to college in the states. I ended up going to a small junior college and loved that experience but had a thirst to try and go on and play at an international level. I came back at that point in time, I guess a little disheartened with my career and had the opportunity to get involved in real estate. I also ended up helping Dad out on the farm for a bit. I then got playing into playing after being invited to be the hitting partner for Heath Denman, Allan Ross and a couple of better juniors from the Ipswich area. As I started hitting more, I got back playing and training with Mal Anderson for a number of years. 1985 saw me play a full year of open tournaments, in ’86 I was the No. 1 player in Queensland, ’87 I had my first year of travel over to Europe to compete. I played a lot money tournaments, club tennis and futures over there. ’88 and ’89 was very similar to that.
Favourite Tennis memory? One of my favourite memories was coaching the 2003 Australian boys Junior Davis Cup team which went on to win against all odds.
How long have you been coaching? Give us a brief rundown of your coaching career. I was heading back over to Europe in 1990 when I got an offer from Gary Stickler to work as an assistant in the state program. In ’91 I was given the opportunity to come on in a more senior roll in those programs. I was there until ’93. I was then given the opportunity to set up my own business called World Tennis in partnership with Graeme Turner who was the owner of Flight Centre. Those programs existed until 1999 when I got an opportunity to work the Australian Institute of Sport. I had 3 wonderful years with them. Did a lot of traveling, learnt a lot about myself and developing players at the next level. We had some incredible results down there. From there I came back to Queensland and worked as the director of tennis at Brisbane Boy’s College for 2 years. I then got another opportunity to get back into the national program as the director of player development at Tennis NSW. I was then took a similar role at Tennis Queensland and was keen to come home. At the start of 2008 I got involved with LifeTime Tennis.
Why do you coach? I love helping young people become better. Coaching is a conduit for making better young human beings. It teaches a lot of ownership and responsibility for the kids. It helps them be the best they possibly can, at all levels. Whether it’s a young person having their first lesson hitting a serve in the court or whether its someone winning an international junior or senior event, or anything in between. I coach to help people be better, not just to be better tennis players.
Advice for your 12-year-old self? Be patient. Allow the game to come to you a little bit. Create opportunities through your work ethic and experience and continue to put yourself in the right place at the right time.
Advice for your 16-year-old self? Grow up a little son! You were very immature in the way that you were acting. I guess, start to work on the physical part of your game. If there was something, I know I didn’t do well, it was work on me as an athlete. I think tennis I had a good enough game but not a good enough body.
Favourite part about tennis? I love the tactical part of the game. I’m a little bit of a tactician in everything that I do. I love watching the NFL because of the tactics that are involved in that. I love watching people influence other people and manipulate the game through the way they play. Sop the tactical side of the game is something I’m really passionate about.
Favourite drill and why? I guess one of the drills I do a lot is hit 3 heavy balls and play it out. This is because I like seeing people try and hit the ball bigger, but I also like that open court play. Anything that has a closed component to the drill which then opens up at the backend of it, are drills I enjoy doing because there needs to be a decision making and tactical part of it, but people also need to be able to hit a quality ball.
Thing that leads to the greatest improvement in your experience. When players take ownership and be responsible for their own development. A lot of people come to us and ask, “what can you do for me?”. The first thing I say is I can help you be a better person; I can help you take more ownership of your development and be driven from within. If there’s something along those lines, it’s the person qualities that make the difference of a player. Anybody can be a good athlete; anybody can hit a good ball, but it takes a real deep desire to be good at something like tennis.
Stay tuned for more content about our team of industry leading coaches!