Overlooking the Wellbeing Precinct construction site where builders are beginning to dig out the ground for the School’s new Aquatic Centre, more than 50 supporters of the capital campaign were treated to an evening with Australian tennis legend, John Fitzgerald this week.
Fitzgerald, a long-standing friend of the local community and past parent of two Mentone Girls’ Head Girls spoke about his former sporting career, the current crop of tennis stars and gave a light hearted exclusive insider’s view of the elite tennis environment.
“I grew up as a young boy in the 60s admiring Rod Laver and I knew it took a lot of hard work, grit and determination to become a professional tennis player. If you think about the statistics, there are probably one million people playing AFL and only 700 players are professionally listed out of 18 teams. In tennis, it’s significantly less than that. There are approximately 250 men and women playing professionally, so to become an elite sportsman and win titles, were all very proud moments for me,” he said.
Fitzgerald held the Number 1 ranking in Australia, represented his country in two Olympic Games (Seoul and Barcelona), won six ATP TOUR singles titles, won 30 ATP TOUR doubles titles (which included 7 Grand Slam titles) and received the Order of Australia Medal in 1993 for services to tennis. In 2000, John was also selected by Tennis Australia to become Australia’s Davis Cup captain. This was an incredible honour as he became only the fourth Australian captain in the past 60 years.
Fitzgerald particularly admired the strength and endurance of the famous William sisters, who he claimed “have changed the standard of tennis, for both men and women.”
“What the Williams sisters have done in their tennis career is absolutely mind-boggling and I believe that all girls should look up to them as role models. Serena Williams is such a multi-dimensional player. She is tall, strong and quick. A true power athlete.”
“It’s fantastic that this Wellbeing Precinct will include multi-purpose courts along with the Aquatic Centre so that current and future students can become great athletes themselves.”
“Mentone Girls’ Grammar is such a great school community and I was very proud to send both my daughters here. It’s a credit to the School and credit to the generous people here tonight.”
Principal Fran Reddan said she hoped the Wellbeing Precinct would also encourage students to give new sports a “red hot crack”.
“It’s incredible to think that our current ELC students won’t finish school till the year 2033, so this Wellbeing Precinct will play a massive part in their lives. Not only will it allow them to thrive in sports that they are passionate about, it will be a girl-friendly environment for all our students.
“This is a historic moment for us because we’ve never taken on anything as big. It’s truly transformative and we’re so proud to welcome our families and friends to be part of this journey. Thank you for your generous donations, which has helped us raise an outstanding $700,000 towards our 1m fundraising campaign. Another historic milestone for our small, but blessed community.”