Scott Draper, Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs each have their mums to thank for introducing them to the game that would bring them professional success.
Former pro tennis players Scott Draper, Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs obviously all have tennis in common. But did you know that they first got involved in the sport via their mums taking them along to mid-week ladies tennis?
“It’s true, I started out as a youngster going with mum to her mid-week ladies tennis comp,” said Draper, a former world No. 42 and current Developmental Tennis Manager at Tennis Australia.
“Then when I was a little older, Mum and I started playing tournaments together and we did really well. We won a number of mixed doubles titles at the Australian Money Tournaments.
“My dad also played a role in introducing me to the sport and I am forever thankful to my parents for getting me involved, especially since it created a career path for me on and off the court, but most importantly tennis has been another wonderful vehicle for our family to spend time together and share a common love outside of each other.”
Todd Woodbridge, who formed half of arguably the most successful doubles combination in history (with Mark Woodforde), also has fond memories of starting his tennis career alongside his mum.
“When I was child my mum used to take me to tennis with her and park me in the stroller next to the court while she played,” said Woodbridge, Head of Professional Tennis at Tennis Australia.
“Mum played three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – and by the time I could walk I used to wait for the sets to finish so I could run out and hit some tennis balls. When I grew older I started playing Saturday comp with her.
“I remember a school careers councillor asking me once, what would you like to be when you grow up? I said without hesitation a tennis player,” revealed Woodbridge, who throughout his career won 11 Grand Slam doubles titles and five straight Wimbledon titles as well as an Olympic gold medal at Atlanta in 1996.
“I am very fortunate to have a mum who loves tennis as much as I do.”
Wayne Arthurs, the son of former Irish Davis Cup player Derek Arthurs and Angie Arthurs, describes his mum as “the best mother in the world”.
“She has helped me in every aspect of my life, not just on the tennis court,” said Arthurs, who won his first ATP title in February 2005 at Scottsdale (defeating Mario Ancic). At 33 years of age, he was the oldest first-time winner since the ATP Tour was formed in 1990.
Like Draper and Woodbridge, he embarked on a career in tennis as a result of his mum.
“The way I got into the game was through my mum, she used to play mid-week ladies in Adelaide … that’s how my tennis career started,” said Arthurs, who now works as a National Academy coach for Tennis Australia.
“My mum has always been supportive, always been there – a shoulder to cry or enjoy the happy moments with … she is a huge part of my life, even now.”
Arthurs retired at Wimbledon 2007 with 12 doubles titles, a career-high singles ranking of 44 (in July 2001) and 11 in doubles (in November 2003).
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