Matt Ebden has taken advantage of some rare time at home in Perth to give back to the WA tennis community.
Ebden was a special guest at the School Sport Australia Bruce Cup Officials Dinner at the Royal Perth Golf Club last week and then mingled with the competitors at Alexander Park Tennis Club to show his support at the weekend.
Ebden spoke about his days playing Pizzey Cup in his teens and how important School Sport had been to his career.
“That was awesome and it was probably my first memory of getting a real test at a national level at such a young age against guys older than me because we had the teams event and then also a singles competition with it,” Ebden said. “I remember getting through quite a few of those matches and thinking: ‘This is kind of fun and cool and exciting.’
“School sport was big for me because after Year 8 I considered stopping school completely and becoming just a tennis player. But I opted to stay in school and see that path out, do all the State teams, the squads, play all the men’s tournaments and stay in school until the end of Year 12 and then head onto the Tour after that.”
Ebden also had some advice for aspiring tennis professionals.
“My answer is usually always the same,” he said. “First of all, make sure you’re enjoying all the competitions, all the practices, the training, the matches, events like these, the State teams, the school sport teams, all that stuff, because a lot of our kids are playing until 16, 17, 18 and then stopping playing.
”I think if they keep enjoying it they are going to keep playing and if they don’t keep playing they’ve got no chance of being any good or improving or going on with their tennis anyway.”
Ebden said his goal had always been to be the best tennis player he could be – something he is still striving to achieve.
While the 31-year-old admitted it can be a brutal sport at times, he said his passion still burned bright.
“It’s a sport that I’m really proud to be part of – the growth and development of tennis in the last 10 years is amazing,” Ebden said. “The future is great for tennis, it’s growing like crazy and I hope I can still keep playing a part in that.
“I’ve found tennis probably forces you to explore everything, from your deepest darkest self to your incredible highs, as well and every single rung of the ladder in between, so it’s special from that regard. I love it, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“Whenever I finish, whether it’s in one year or five, I want to feel like I became the best I could in tennis.”