Aussies Update: Politics in space.

You don’t need me to tell you about the future of tennis in this country. The fact that we’re resting all our national hopes on the condition that Bernard Tomic doesn’t sudden turn Croatian says enough.

LJ pointed me to this “Four Corners” (current affairs program) report on Tennis Australia. I had never realised the divisions were so deep within the tennis community in this country.

It’s a long program, but thoroughly researched and documented. You can watch it online here – clickey. What amazed me was how much general dissatisfaction there is over Tennis Australia’s player development.


Last year some of Australia’s greatest former champions asked to meet with the board of Tennis Australia.

PETER MCNAMARA: We had a meeting last year… this time last year with John Newcombe, Tony Roche, myself, Jason Stoltenberg, Pat Rafter, Mark Woodford, talking about the development of tennis and, you know, the promotion of tennis in Australia and where it was going and nothing came of it.

CRAIG TILEY: I think it’s fantastic that players want to get together and meet and provide some input on… on certain things that can be developed or can be done better.

Why do they say you weren’t listening then?

CRAIG TILEY: Well, I mean I’d… I’d have to ask directly those that say that, but no-one has come back to me directly and said we weren’t listening.

PETER MCNAMARA: Well, the meeting was four hours and the end result was nothing.

DAVID DRYSDALE (Hewitt’s manager): You’ve gotta pump them up; you’ve got to say how great a job they’re doing, even if you think they’re not.

You can’t say a bad thing about them. This is all wrong; this is not the way you run an organisation… and some of these top players, you’re never going to control them.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think, you know, we’ve struggled to make the transition from juniors to seniors, which is very important.

I think we emphasise junior results way too much. And if that was one thing, yeah, I was qualified for the Australian Open when I was 15, you know, in the in the seniors.

Hewitt’s early mentors were some of Australia’s greatest players and coaches.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I’ve been fortunate enough to have… you know, I’ve won two grand slams, I’ve worked with some of the best coaches in the world, whether it’s Tony Roche, Jason Stoltenberg, Darren Cahill, I’ve had the best guys around.

And then you thrown in, you know, John Newcombe as well as Davis Cup Captain with Rochey back, you know, when I was starting out.

At the moment those guys aren’t being used in Australian tennis and… and that hurts.

What Hewitt won’t say, but his supporters will, is that nor does Tennis Australia seem to want our number one male player.

JASON STOLTENBERG: Lleyton’s the one thing that we’ve got now that’s still relevant, that’s… that’s that all these players are aspiring to be one day.

He’s got all the qualities that you would want; that we’re trying to develop in these kinds of players.

Jason Stoltenberg coached Hewitt the year he won Wimbledon. He had Hewitt practising with juniors in between matches.

JASON STOLTENBERG: Lleyton just jumped at it and that’s the special quality about Lleyton, other than the fact that he’s a great player, is that he has a genuine interest and genuine passion for Australian tennis and that’s quite rare. So, we can’t lose that.

DAVID DRYSDALE: He has a passion. He wants to see the sport go somewhere; he doesn’t want to be known as the last grand slam winner in Australia.

He doesn’t want to be known as the last true world champion. He wants to be part of it.

He… he wanted to carry on the trad-tradition. He wants someone else to carry that tradition on from him.

JASON STOLTENBERG: He has to be utilised. He has… someone has to grab him and find a way to get him involved with our young players.

And… and if I was involved with Tennis Australia, I would be doing my upmost to make sure that happened

Reporter: But he’s not inside the tent?

JASON STOLTENBERG: No, he’s not inside the tent and it’s… and it’s… I know the discussions I’ve had with Tennis Australia have been very much along well why? You know.

And what answer did you get?

JASON STOLTENBERG: I’m not involved… I’m not involved. Why is Roachy not involved and why is Lleyton not involved? They have to be involved.

And… and, you know, there are people in there that believe that they don’t really probably have a lot to offer when it comes to developing players and that might be very hard to fathom, but that’s… that’s the reality.

More of the transcript: clickey



2 responses to “Aussies Update: Politics in space.”

  1. Nic says :

    Urgh, the public politicing has been icky. How does something as basic as a phone call from Lleyts to Tomic becoming a campaign point? Pro-McNamee’s claim he was integral in orchestrating the phone call (how much organising could it need?) while Fitzgerald denies McNamee has had anything to do with DC for the past decade.

    The best article I’ve read on the situation was in the Australian Magazine by Katherine Legg in early Jan. Really breaks it down without taking sides. Superfun to see the TA situation from a political journalists perspective. You know, if you’re into that stuff.

    Was looking forward to the 4Corners feature, but missed it. Thanks for the link.

  2. Mia says :

    Very unfortunate given Australia’s storied tennis tradition. Other countries are hard-pressed coming up with a single player to rally tennis around while here you have a country that is a cornerstone the sport from the ground up. Rumble from Down Under? Unreal.

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