GRIFFITH’S future tennis stars had a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with one of the sport’s great icons when 14-time Grand Slam-title winner Evonne Goolagong-Cawley visited the city on Saturday.
Nearly 50 local Indigenous kids turned out for the “Learn Earn Legend” tennis day held by Goolagong-Cawley at the Griffith Tennis Club at the weekend.
Griffith Tennis Club’s Cheryl Rawle said it was a fantastic day for the sport and a great opportunity for the city’s young tennis enthusiasts to meet the former world number one.
“It was great for the town and great promotion from tennis,” she said.
“It was good for my squad to be exposed to a living tennis legend.
“For the older kids it gave them a sense that success is tangible. She’s such a humble person, born in Griffith and she made her goals achievable. We’re so far removed in the country that the kids lose sight of that sometimes.”
The day was aimed at introducing local Indigenous kids to tennis and encouraging them to stick with their goals and become a “legend” in their community.
“Goolagong spoke to them about hard work ethic and took a really hands-on approach to the kids,” Rawle said.
“Roger Cawley (Goolagong-Cawley’s husband) spoke to the kids about Evonne and about how she used to hit tennis balls on brick walls and on tanks when she was a kid with a butter paddle, before she even had a racquet.
“They also spoke about being the best they can be and staying in school.”
Rawle and her squad helped out during the day by teaching the younger kids to play hot shots while national Indigenous coach Ian Goolagong taught the older kids.
Goolagong-Cawley also used the day to identify played who showed potential in the sport and Rawle said a
number of them had been earmarked for scholarships.
“They really knew their stuff and they were IDing kids that needed IDing,” she said.
“Some of the children will end up with scholarships to help them pay for coaching and racquets – the scholarships will mean the difference between being able to stay in the sport and I’m really hoping for a positive outcome from the day in that way.”