Age just a number for Flynn in Toowoomba
A former junior star in the 1980s, Queenslander Pat Flynn has written an unlikely comeback chapter in his enduring tennis tale.
Pat Flynn, a 48-year-old veteran from the Sunshine Coast, made a miraculous run to the main draw of this week’s Hutchinson Builders Toowoomba Tennis International.
After three wins in the qualifying rounds – including a defeat of eighth seed Ivan Goluza – the children’s book author and father of two was perhaps channelling his inner Peter Pan.
His adventure ended on Monday at the hands of Queensland wildcard Adam Walton, some 31 years his junior.
“I like to think you can keep getting better at any age,” Flynn said after the 6-3 6-1 defeat. “It was a good opportunity today. He played pretty well. It was good fun.”
A promising player in his younger days, Flynn spent three years at the Australian Institute of Sport before going on to play another four years at the University of Texas.
He was a finalist at the junior Australian Open at Kooyong back in 1984 (where he lost to Mark Kratzmann) and also “did a bit on the circuit” which resulted in a career-high ranking of No.390 in 1986.
While he has played somewhat regularly since – he made the semifinals of the “Win a Wildcard” mixed doubles event ahead of Australian Open 2014 – his more dedicated approach to a level he has not attempted for nearly 20 years was prompted by motivation simply to see what could be achieved at his age.
“I was keeping a journal and thinking that I might write a non-fiction book about how you can improve at something like tennis at a later age,” he said.
“I read all the books on getting the best out of yourself, started stretching a lot more and doing a bit of meditation each day.
‘I’m just trying to get a little better all the time. I know the body’s not going to get any faster but you can always concentrate a bit better and things like that. This year I will just collect a lot of data, run some tests, play some tournaments, put some theories out there and then at the end of the year see where I’m at.”
Flynn also entered qualifying at the Australian Pro Tour event in Brisbane last week but lost a tight opening-round encounter to sixth seed Alexander Krnocrak in a deciding-set tiebreaker.
“We had a good battle,” he said of the up-and-coming 16-year-old.
With a somewhat informal goal of reaching the top 100 in Australian rankings – his efforts this week should see him now well inside the top 200 – Flynn saw the two ITF Futures events as opportunities worth pursuing.
“They fell in the school holidays, so I thought it could be a great chapter in the book if I could get in there and come up against some really good players,” he explained.
“I think this is it though, but you never say never. I love tennis and I’d love to be playing all the time, but I’m just sneaking in as much as I can get.”
Wednesday’s action in Toowomba saw second seed Marc Polmans cruise to victory over qualifier Michael Look while top seed Ben Mitchell was forced to retire against Leon Frost.
Quarterfinalists will be decided on Thursday as all round of 16 matches take to the court.