Remembering Anthony Richardson: a top coach and “fair dinkum good bloke”
Universally adored coach Anthony Richardson, who shaped the careers of many well-known players, leaves a rich legacy in Australian tennis.
As coaches, players and the many people he impacted within the tennis community reflect on the tremendous legacy of Anthony Richardson, there is universal agreement.
Richardson, who has passed away in Brisbane at age 43 after a lengthy battle with melanoma, was not only one of the best professional coaches in the game’s global network, but also one of its finest people.
From his start as a part-time coach at age 15 – fittingly, alongside his own junior coach, Ken Hick, who coached Anthony, as well as his sister Kim and brother Grant, in his birth town of Gladstone, Central Queensland – Richardson embarked on a tennis journey that took him throughout the world and in turn shaped the careers of many Australian players.
Hick, who maintained a life-long friendship with Richardson and his family, described his former charge as “a very special person who had no enemies, was an outstanding coach, great family man, awesome friend and just a fair dinkum good bloke.”
A state coach with Tennis Queensland, Richardson was also a Metropolitan Coach at the NSW Institute of Sport and working with Wally Masur, he became NSW Athlete Development Manager. After a stint as Head Coach at Griffiths University, Richardson returned to Tennis Queensland.
Most recently, Richardson was a foundation coach at the Tennis Australia National Tennis Academy (NTA), which opened in Brisbane in July 2020.
Chris Mahony, Head of the NTA, noted the many qualities that made Richardson universally loved throughout the tennis community. “There’s too many to list but his authenticity, genuineness, kindness, thoughtfulness, loyalty, sense of humour, and positive outlook on life are a few that quickly come to mind,” said Mahony of the Queenslander, who was fondly known as “Richo”.
Mark Draper, both a close friend and colleague of Richardson at the NTA, agrees. “Whoever meets him saw his warm, caring spirit and engaging smile right away, which made that person feel comfortable and welcomed,” Draper said.
“And then once you got to know him, you saw him bring this kindness and warmth daily. He was humble, cared deeply about his players and his fellow coaches and staff and would go the extra mile to do what he could for tennis, and everyone involved with it.”
Those qualities are also evident in the tributes flowing from some well-known Australian players.
“I’m so lucky to have had you as a second dad to me growing up (and) as a coach for six years,” wrote Priscilla Hon on social media. “I have no words, but I know how much me and everyone will miss you. Thank you for everything you have done for me, Anthony. I will forever be grateful.”
As Tennis Australia’s Chief Strategy and Performance Officer, Tim Jolley had a first-hand view of Richardson’s deep passion for the sport and his powerful influence on emerging players.
“Anthony had a long and outstanding career and was always extremely passionate about regional tennis. In recent years, he had a big impact on our female athletes who were transitioning into the pro space,” said Jolley.
“Richo was one of those rare individuals that you never heard anyone say a bad word about. He had an infectious smile, a genuine passion for coaching and a lifelong love for the game of tennis. He was a great friend to many, devoted to his family and the most decent kind of human being.”
Mahony shared a memory from the December Showdown, staged at Melbourne Park, which typified Richardson’s deep love for his family – including his wife Shell and teenage daughters Ruby and Ava – and his commitment to the players he guided.
“This particular day he stayed until the end of his players’ matches, rushed to the airport to catch a flight back to Brisbane in time for one of his daughter’s school graduations or concert, took the first flight back to Melbourne the next morning, and rushed back to the courts in time for his players’ warm-up,” said Mahony. “No-one even knew he was gone.”
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley was equally touched by Richardson’s depth of character, both personally and at a professional level, from his first experiences with the passionate coach. “Anthony Richardson was one of the first people I met when arriving in Australia. I will never forget his desire to always help others,” recalled Tiley.
“Great teachers are humble, empathetic and have an insatiable desire for improvement, Anthony embodied all these qualities and more. His impact on the lives of young people will be missed but his legacy on our game and many of our young athletes will never be forgotten.
“Richo was a remarkable human being.”