Space Mountain

As athletes I think we sometimes forget how lucky and privileged we are to be involved in something that is so much bigger than ourselves. Something that we pick up and love from a young age, are lucky enough to have decent skills at, decide to fine tune these skills over many years of hard work, and then that somehow, in return, has the ability to create opportunities that shapes and paves who we are and where we end up. It’s like going to Disneyland as a kid and choosing to ride “Space Mountain” – something you’ve always wanted to do, scary as hell, has its up and downs, but when you get off you say to yourself “I’d do that again!”. For me, that ride I chose was tennis.

I’m not here to talk about myself or my tennis achievements (that’s what wikipedia is for!), but rather this is my space, time, and opportunity to give back and create this ride for other aspiring individuals, no matter how young or old. Tennis has, and will always be, bigger than who I am – I’ve just been lucky to have been a part of it for as long as I have.

As professional athletes we’re all striving for that no.1 prize and sometimes we can get so caught up in our own world that it’s not until we get injured, take time off, or retire, that we then realise how fortunate we really are. The life lessons and skills we learn, the family and friends that support us, the people we meet and the connections we make, the places and countries we visit, and the ability to make a living out of the sport, is only a glimpse of some of the perks of being involved in a sport like tennis. We are lucky to be able to call this our “job” and must remember that not every individual has the opportunity, or has had the opportunity, to experience this unique roller coaster ride.

So where am I going with this all? As a retired athlete I have found that it’s my time to give back (this is only one of many!) – it’s my time to promote the great sport of tennis, to encourage people of all ages to pick up a racquet, and hopefully inspire and create an opportunity for some other young kid to jump on and ride Space Mountain. As part of this endeavour I will be running the Perth Marathon, June 14th (yes that’s 42km!) to raise funds for two very important causes – Court Talk and the Indigenous Engagement non-for-profit charitable organisation, Murlpirrmarra Connection.

Court Talk (91.3 SportFM) promotes local West Australian tennis, drives junior and senior tennis participation, and creates sustainable long term awareness of tennis throughout Perth and the wider West Australian community. I’ve been lucky enough to have been a part of Court Talk (thanks to Patsy and Big D!) since November 2014, and have seen the work that goes behind making this show possible, and it’s all for the love of the game. I wake up every Sunday morning excited to be on the show – yes there’s banter, and a little controversy (what’s a show without a little controversy?), but the most important and the biggest drive behind the show is to keep promoting tennis in WA. I’m grateful for the support that this state and tennis community has given me over the years and I have many fond memories of my playing days in Perth. My way of giving back – raise funds for Court Talk so that it can fund more of it’s production, buy more air time (sometimes we get kicked off last minute due to the cricket), and be self sufficient so that it can broadcast more tournaments, broadcast the West Australian State League and the Asia-Pacific League, as well as any other West Australian related tennis events.

Murlpirrmarra Connection creates educational options, community programs and volatile substance rehabilitation for the Indigenous Children on the Martu lands and around Wiluna, Central Western Australia. Giving back is not just about giving back to the game – it’s about being able to use the game to give back to something even bigger. For me, that something bigger is raising funds for Murlpirrmarra Connection – to continue to create hope, inspiration, and opportunities for young children in the wish   that one day they too can jump on their own roller coaster ride.

I have 12 weeks until I run my first marathon and I’ll be keeping a weekly blog of my training and experiences. Whether you choose to read and follow is up to you – but just remember whether your a current player, retired, or just a pure lover of the game be grateful and find a way to give back yourself – no matter how great or small that may be.

 “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”  – Vince Lombardi

I look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

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