tennis ballsBy Julian O’Brien, aka The Bloke in The Shed

The look in the eyes of the kid was unmistakable. It was steely-eyed determination and grit. The kid with the backwards cap and the focus beyond his years who was looking intensely at the sports journo from a regional newspaper interviewing him was Lleyton Hewitt. The other bloke was me.

I was interviewing Lletyon after he won the national 14 and under hardcourt championships in Burnie, Tasmania and alongside him was the female winner. She was a much taller, more affable and a more relaxed personality. Her name was Alicia Molik.

Interestingly, Lleyton’s mum and dad hovered close by. Not much has changed.

What struck me then has also not changed to this day. Lleyton Hewitt is just one extremely talented and focused individual who has a terrific family support network.

Get him off court and comfortable, he’d be a terrific bloke to be around. Get him on court or out of his bubble, he’d be an absolute nightmare.

If you look up “competitor’’ in the dictionary, it would be fitting to see Lleyton’s mugshot there. Sure, Australia has probably produced more decorated tennis players, but the fact remains – on statistics – he is our greatest ever Davis Cup player. Ever. He loves the nation which spawned him. Therefore, we should love him back.

I saw someone refer to him as “Bogan Lleyton” on Twitter recently. I’m tipping Lleyton might wear that as a badge of honour and I’d encourage him to do so. The tennis player I saw as a kid transferred to the world stage.

As a pimple-faced kid, I saw him chase down balls no-one human had the right to retrieving. He was a player determined to make the most out of his ability and, regardless of any future results, he has already done just that. That should be respected, whether you love him or hate him.

Lleyton, whether the end of your career is nigh or far, you are a champion. Thanks for the memories.

What are your favourite tennis memories? Have you been watching the Open?

Photo credit.

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10 Responses to The Shed: C’mon, Aussie Lleyton, c’mon

  1. I’ve not watched much of the Aussie open this year, and won’t be home late today so doubt I will see Lleyton’s 4th round match.

    My fave tennis memory has to be watching Sam Stosur win the semi-final that led to her US Open win. My partner and I were at the pub, with my dad & brother and their respective partners, watching it on the big screen. We knew she’d already won the game (it was a replay) but that didn’t diminish our excitement as she took out the game. The whole pub erupted into a huge cheer. It was one of those ‘proud to be an Aussie’ moments!
    Mum of Adult Kids recently posted..Weekend Worker BeeMy Profile

  2. Seana Smith says:

    Great to get an insight into the junior Lleyton… why haven’t I been watching the tennis??

  3. Kelly Exeter says:

    Love this Kel. I have been a Lleyton fan right from the start and have spent years defending him to others. Yes, he has done/said silly things over the years … but I guess I understand white line fever (hubby suffers quite badly from it) and I could see that it is just the COMPETITOR in him.

    I also love how much he has given to Davis Cup over the years. He is just a champion through and through and Australia is lucky to have him 🙂
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  4. Oh yes, we’ve definitely been watching the Australian Open! One of my favourite Slams (I may or may not be from Melbourne ;)) so always enjoy watching the tournament. Best tennis memory? Watching the 2008 Shanghai ATP Tour Finals – in person! Was good to see so many of the men’s top 10 playing. As for Lleyton – he does seem like he would be a great bloke to know off the court!
    Miss Little Notebook SG recently posted..{Friday Fun} Tennis time and an OnCourt Advantage Giveaway!My Profile

    • Nothing like watching the greats up close is there! Lucked out one year. Just rocked up to the gate without a ticket and managed to snag a late release ticket to sold out Rod Laver Arena. Saw Serena and Federer in the one avo and was one row back from the players box and many VIPs!!!! My feet did not touch the ground on the walk back to our hotel in Richmond.

  5. Lisa Wood says:

    Be so good to see the other side of Tennis experts more often. I really like Lleyton Hewitt as he has a family and a great career. He also loves what he does. Funny how the more successful you get the more people like to take you down.
    I love that he has so much family support, from his parents to his wife and children!
    What a great guy.
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