Playing Tennis with Rock Stars

Playing Tennis with Rock Stars

When I left academia, I was immediately offered a role in a mining company. With barely two nickels to rub together, I accepted. Not knowing that I was going to be spending a lot of time on the other side of the continent. And Australia is big. Very big. So, 3,938.1 km and a 41-hour drive. Or a 5-hour flight. 

My role was to shut down the company's Perth offices. Now, being surrounded by people who've just been made redundant doesn't bring many dinner offers. And I was going to be in Perth a lot. So, assuming my evenings would be lonely, I wrote to a few tennis clubs to see if I could get a social hit. A year and a half later, I'm still waiting on a reply. From any or all of them. 

There will now be a quick segue into something else. But this will become relevant. I promise. Trust me. 

My Tennis Club

Being on an international Ph.D. scholarship is not all it's made out to be. Want cocktail parties with glamorous people. Tuxedo dinners. To sail through the harbour. Then don't do a Ph.D. It's hard. And lonely. And, thanks to Australian visa and my university regulations, you can only work for ten hours per week. Which means how many companies are interested in employing you? At less than a shift and a half availability per week? Somewhere between none and a big fat zero. So, it's isolating. 

To stay sane and do something practical, I got involved with managing my local tennis club. As with many tennis clubs in Australia, it was in a perilous state. Declining playing numbers. Crumbling facilities. Frustration and apathy in the membership. The oldest licensed sports club in Australia, it was very close to shutting its doors for good. 

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Andy Murray and the White Elephant Tennis Centre

Andy Murray and the White Elephant Tennis Centre
After GB's tennis team won the Davis Cup last weekend, there was a quick flurry of reporting before the UK media's interest tennis quickly dropped back into its default position of "almost non-existent". Other than the excellent success of the team, the one thing that did stand out in the brief spurt of activity was Andy Murray's reason for not wor...
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Changing the Model for Playing Tennis in Australia

Changing the Model for Playing Tennis in Australia

Having read this very interesting post about declining participation in tennis in the UK and been part of similar conversations in Australia, I thought I'd leave behind my usual academic geekiness and give my two cents worth on why tennis in both countries is struggling. Although I will generally refer to the Australian system, I believe much of what I say still pertains to the UK. 

I was one of the lucky few invited to participate in the Tennis Australia Places to Play conference in 2012, from which I took away a lot of inspiration and excellent information. I also met lots of people extremely passionate about tennis in Australia. The conference was fundamental towards my building a working relationship with Paul Hoysted, once a board member of Tennis NSW and, in my opinion, one of the best and most innovative tennis coaches in the country.

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