Pat Rafter steps up to new role at Tennis Australia

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

Tennis legend Pat Rafter. Photo: Michael DodgeDual US Open champion Pat Rafter will retain the Davis Cup captaincy for at least one more year in tandem with his powerful new role as Tennis Australia’s director of performance, while also pledging to share his time equally with the less buoyant and familiar women’s side of the local game.

Following months of deliberation and negotiation, Rafter, 41, will formally fill the long-vacant high-performance position on February 1, reporting directly to TA chief executive Craig Tiley. Before then, he plans to feel his way into the full-time management post the former world No. 1 believes is a natural expansion of the Davis Cup leadership role he assumed at the end of 2010.

The appointment is believed to have been recommended in a recent review of tennis operations carried out by experienced American coach Paul Annacone, with whom Rafter intends to remain in ongoing advisory contact. The Rafter family is likely to move from the Sunshine Coast to either Sydney or Melbourne in due course.

While the four-time grand slam finalist does not claim to have all the answers – “Far from it. I am going to take my time, listen, watch and learn,” he said – one of Rafter’s first tasks will be to start asking questions.

Some, clearly, will involve the subject of why the improving depth in Australian men’s tennis is not being matched in the women’s game, with veteran pair Sam Stosur and Casey Dellacqua continuing to dominate, and a dearth of exciting prospects in the Nick Kyrgios mould.

“The women is an area that I’ve got to get more into,” Rafter said. “Over the next two months I’m going to have to really dig deep into that, because it’s probably an area that I have not been exposed to very much. With the Davis Cup role I’ve just been dealing with the men, so now I’ve got to focus as much on the women as I do on the men.”

Rafter said he considered the “massive” role a challenge which would be about both learning about and for himself and contributing to a sport that has treated him so well. After his 2002 retirement, he initially stepped back from tennis to raise his young family with wife Lara, but said the time was right to take an expanded role.

“I needed to find out whether or not I could do it, just with my family, with what I’ve got going on, also the Davis Cup, how I mix it all in together,” he said. “So it went back and forward for quite a while, actually, and at one stage I didn’t think I could do it, and I let them know, and Paul Annacone came out and did the review on things, and along with Craig thought it was very, very do-able for me, and I thought … ‘well, maybe it’s a good opportunity for me to try my hand at something a little bit different’.”

Having led Australia back into the Davis Cup world group in 2013 for the first time since 2007, the uncompromising Rafter has made a positive and passionate impact as captain, and is widely respected for both his leadership and organisational skills; unafraid, for example, to suspend the likes of wayward pair Bernard Tomic and Marinko Matosevic.

Tennis Australia president Steve Healy welcomed the appointment, saying in a statement: “It is extremely rare for one of the greats to take on a role such as this. In fact, this could be a first. That just exemplifies Pat Rafter the person and this great Australian’s commitment to the sport of tennis.”

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