Legend to hold court

AUSTRALIAN tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley is encouraging local indigenous children to have a go at tennis.

Goolagong Cawley will host a come and try day for indigenous children at the Sale Tennis Club this Sunday between 10am to 2.30pm.

This introductory clinic is a great way for five to 15-year-olds to pick up a racquet, have fun and give tennis a go.

The winner of four Australian Open, two Wimbledon and one French Open singles titles, Goolagong Cawley will be joined by national indigenous coach Ian Goolagong.

This clinic is run by the Evonne Goolagong Foundation in conjunction with Tennis Australia, and is supported by the Australian Government’s Learn Earn Legend! initiative.

The Learn Earn Legend! initiative aims to encourage and support young Indigenous Australians to stay at school, get a job and be a legend for themselves, their family and their community.

These clinics are designed to encourage young indigenous Australians to pick up a racquet, have fun and give tennis a real go, with the aim to increase the number of indigenous girls and boys playing tennis to help improve their health, education and employment opportunities.

“It’s all about coming and having a go,” Goolagong Cawley said.

“Sure we will be looking for those with great timing and co-ordination, but we will be helping people who help themselves.

“We will be looking for the boy and girl who try their hardest.

“One girl last year had spina bifida, and we picked her because she tried her heart out, she turned to my husband Roger and said ‘look, I can do this’.”

Participants could win an opportunity to receive seven free coaching sessions, with those that stay in school, attend lessons and improve in line to be selected for state and national development camps.

Goolagong Cawley said more than 1100 indigenous Australians participated in come and try days last year, with 150 moving on to the second stage of receiving coaching support at a state camp.

“We are using tennis as a vehicle for better education and we have got a good track record,” she said.

“We have eight young people going through university and have given 35 scholarships to schools.

“We have seven fully accredited coaches and sports administrators, so it’s also about creating jobs.”

Goolagong Cawley said the concept continued to grow, with an increase of national camp participants this year.

“We had about 40 at our national camp, the year before we only had 15,” she said.

“When I was eight years old I read a story about a girl who got to go to Wimbledon and live the dream on centre court.

“I would hit against the wall and pretend I was there, I would dream about it.

“My first dream was to win Wimbledon, I have achieved that.

“My second dream, which I am working on now, is to see as many indigenous people playing tennis with a better education.

“We could find the next champion, you just never know.

“I want to help indigenous people find their dream, and we can do that through better education.”

Sale Tennis Club president Robin Lowe said Goolagong Cawley had been to the club on several occasions and has been extremely generous with her time.

“As a 13-time grand slam legend, Evonne has been inspirational with the children and it shows in the results she gets and the scholarship opportunities that she has helped to create,” she said.

Last year, 60 indigenous children took part in the program which resulted in two locals receiving scholarships through the Evonne Goolagong Foundation.

Any children interested in taking part can phone Ian Goolagong on 0434 604 103.

Another Learn Earn Legend! Tennis Come and Try Day will be held at Bairnsdale on Monday.