Now it was not that my family was rich, but we had a tennis court in Rainworth. Our house was built at the front, level with Boundary Road, but because of the steep fall of the block, the stumps at the back of the house would have to be over 30 feet high and the steps going down to under the house must have nearly counted 30 in all. The land fell into a gully at the end of the block and our property included this gully.
But at some stage when I was very young, my father built a tennis court in the gully with the help of his friends. It was an ant bed dirt court that we would rent out for extra income. It even had lights so we could rent it out at night. It is so strange that decisions are made in life by others like our parents, but then those decisions sometimes can have a profound effect on your life and more interesting is that at the time you are not really aware the affect the decision is having. So was the case with me growing up in Rainworth with a tennis court in the back yard? I now believe the tennis court did bring a number of things into my life such as:
Introduced me to the Protestant Work Ethic
Now, as a young child, I knew that jobs had to be done and the extra income came in handy, and work was an important part of life. My brother and I had to prepare the court ready for matches or social nights for the locals playing tennis. So Mum would let me know or remind me as I raced in from school that I should not forget the court needed doing this afternoon for the rental that night. This meant that where ever I was racing out to play, that I would have to be home early enough to prepare the court. You can be assured that I cursed the intrusion into my play time. But it would be done. My OCD ways also helped out because the preparing the court was a very formalised routine of first bagging, then hosing, second bagging, then rolling with a heavy concrete roller filled with water, and finally mark the lines. This was not something that could be rushed. The job had to be done. They say that everyone remembers the time that the news broke about the assassination of President Kennedy. I do and I was preparing the court and as a young child thought, "what was to happen in the world, now?'
Developed a skill and a liking for tennis.
I had a number of mates who would often come to our place to play tennis after school or on weekends if the courts were free. Because we played so much, we all became reasonably proficient at the game. So much so that we formed a school tennis team, which was represented by myself, Peter Andrews (from a few houses up Boundary Road), Ronald Burling (who had diabetes so had to be careful) and then the fourth player was Gary Loseby or Robert Lingard. But the interesting thing was that this school team had no teacher assigned to it for the training or to organise the matches in the inter school completion. We did it all for ourselves and we were only about 11 or 12 at the time. We even took ourselves on trams all over Inner Brisbane to play the competition. We were not too bad a team also, beating every team in the competition at least once, but did not win the finals unfortunately.
Taught me to Dream
At some stage I decided I wanted to become better at tennis and really try hard to make a career of it. So many hours were put into playing tennis with others as well as by myself hitting up against the practice board at one end of the court. I was going to represent Australia in the Davis Cup team. I applied myself with the training and going into competitions at the old Milton tennis courts. This was until, reality clicked in and I understood that the chances of achieving that was very slight and it would take much more grooming of my talent at the game and it was an enormous gamble in making it happen. At the time, my love for the land took over, and the more achievable dream of one day owning a farm and the need to get the best education and a more stable position in life by becoming a Vet would be a better immediate goal.
So it is amazing how something that was created as an extra income source by my parents, became much more in my development by creating a richer life. Because tennis brought into my life:
Love for outside healthy pursuits
Appreciation of my own abilities
Assistance in making grown up decisions for my future
The ability to dream and drive towards a goal
If you go down Selby Street off Boundary Road, and in the gully you will see that the tennis court has now gone, replaced by a house that was owned by our Local Member of Parliament (Federal I think) Manfred Cross, who moved the family house from further down Boundary Road (at the now round about at the bottom of Boundary Road) in order to build a new house on his site. But the memories live on. Thanks Mum and Dad for bringing Tennis into my life and all the friends who shared the great times and experiences that it created.
So if you live in Brisbane's inner West and need a tennis partner, then contact me because I have a great group of tennis players for you to join. Don't forget to subscribe to this blog on the right hand side as well as register to tell your story about Growing up In Rainworth and never forget to share the stories as we want them to live on.