After nearly 10 years leading LifeTime's Pro Tennis and academy program, we say a heartfelt goodbye and thank you to Heath for everything he has done for LifeTime. We'll never forgot that one-handed backhand! Good luck for the next chapter in your life!
How did you get into tennis? I got into tennis through my brother and sister. My brother is 2 years older, and my sister is 5 years older. They were getting coached at my local school court and me being the younger brother, I just wanted to follow; I loved sports, I was a sports nut. My dad played for Australian rugby league; my parents were sporting nuts also. It was that, and also really what my parents wanted to be honest, they wanted us to play tennis. They saw that, particularly my brother and myself and good sporting ability and in those days, there was not much money in other sports, so tennis was the way to go.
Can you please give us a brief overview of your playing career? I got to around 250 in the ATP rankings, I travelled full time on the tour for probably 3 years, and then part time for another 3 or 4. Most of my better results were at the satellite level, which today are futures. I had some good results at the Aussie, qualifying one year and winning a round. I qualified at a few other big tournaments.
How long have you been coaching? Brief coaching run down I first coached when I was 15. Not much, just for a few weeks. Then my parents built a tennis centre when I was around 17. At that stage I was playing but when I was home, I’d help them out and do some coaching there, so I had my finger in that coaching for probably 5 years at that stage. That was just on and off, there a couple years where I hardly did anything. Then as soon as I stopped playing, when I was around 27, I coached full time until I was around 32 then stopped for around 8 years did some other stuff. I’ve now been back coaching for the last 10 years.
Why do you coach? To be honest, at the start that’s all I’d ever done. I never did anything else. I didn’t work hard enough at school; I didn’t commit to that because I thought tennis would be my life. And it was just an easy transition, and I was good at it. You know, I was good with people; I had a good understanding of sport and the game. I had the qualities to do it well and it was an easy transition for me to start with. But basically, to start I didn’t know anything else.
Advice for your 12-year-old self Without a doubt, find what you’re passionate about. There’re certain things in life you have to do, but most of it is your choice. Don’t let anyone else sway your decision to spend time on something that’s not in your heart. It’s such an important thing, find what you’re passionate about, you’ll work harder, you’ll enjoy it more. You’ll end up investing more in what you do. I can’t say anything more than that, that’s the biggest thing for me.
Advice for your 16-year-old self Not for me personally, everyone’s different. What advice I’d give one young person, could eb different to the other. But same again, I can’t say it anymore. I’’ be honest, I didn’t do what was in my heart when I was younger. I played tennis for someone else. This meant I always struggled to invest and put everything on the line when I was playing. It was different when I started coaching, it became my choice. And I’m not blaming that, but that’s the reality of it, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I just didn’t have the courage or the confidence to make that decision myself. I just didn’t really understand it.
What's your favourite part about tennis? I loved the travel. I loved spending time with my mates. I also loved competing in front of a big crowd. There was nothing like that. There were some moments, particularly in Australia, when you had a capacity crowd on your side. It was an amazing feeling, having them cheering for you. But mostly just the time with my mates traveling, that was so much fun. Probably too much fun at times.
Favourite drill and why? It depends, if you got 4 kids on a court, I love shot gun. I love that game. There’re so many things you can do with that, and the intensity you can create; the energy you can create within the drill itself. I do love my 3-ball drill as well. Also, my 2-ball, 8-ball drill. I find it hard to pick. They’re all good for different circumstances. But those 3 drills stand out for me just in terms of the fun and intensity you’re able to create.
The thing that leads to the greatest improvement in your experience. Having the right attitude, that’s it. When that individual decides they want to invest in making themselves better and not just rock up and hit balls and wait for you to try and do things for them. When that individual hits that maturity level, if ever, where they just decide, “you know what, how can I make myself better?” that’s it. That’s when things progress.