Matt Ebden has opened up on the off-court experiences that have shaped him on Noah Rubin’s Behind the Racquet.
It comes as Ebden announced on Friday he would open his 2020 campaign in Canberra.
Ebden will contest the Apis Canberra International from January 6 at the Canberra Tennis Centre after receiving a Wildcard.
Ebden, who started his year at the Hopman Cup in 2019, has had an extended period at home after ending his season a little earlier than normal.
The 32-year-old has been completing a rigorous training program as he prepares for a big summer of tennis.
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“Things really began to change in my 20’s. One of my close coaches from Perth who worked with me on and off a lot, from the ages of 16/17 to late into my 20’s, passed away. It’s been four years now since losing a long-term coach and friend, Darren Tandy. While coaching James Ward and I at the US Open one year, we lost in the early rounds. I flew back before them to Australia. While Darren was on his way back he had a stroke right before he boarded the plane. Emergency responders came to take him to the hospital. While doing all the scans they found quite a lot of cancer. It was an extremely developed, advanced form. They flew him back to Perth with a nurse, where he began 48 hour chemotherapy rotations to try and reduce the size of the tumor. It was only three months before he passed away. He’d been a mentor, friend, coach, and trainer to me for a total of 5 or 6 years, on and off, in Perth. All my family knew him. For him to just die like that, at only about 48 or 49 years old, was traumatizing. While he was in the hospital battling cancer I still had to travel and compete. I had a few close friends who helped coach me during this time. I ended up having a good run throughout this time while messaging with Darren constantly, who was encouraging me everyday, even through chemotherapy. I remember going to tournaments after the US Open without him, and I just couldn’t bring myself to focus in the first one. I was fighting to compete and fighting myself to mentally focus. I took all the inspiration I could from him. This wasn’t the only experience like this. A coach I also worked with for close to a year, Peter McNamara, sadly passed away earlier this year in his 60s. Two of my more vital coaches of the past 10 years died. Regardless of these professional relationships being on and off, I considered these people my friends. There will always be a connection. Even my mother has dealt with her own health problems. About 7 years ago she got diagnosed with breast cancer, she had to have surgery and treatment and she is doing very well now living a healthy life…” @matt_ebden Read full story at behindtheracquet.com (link in bio @behindtheracquet )
Ebden spoke to Rubin about how the death of two key coaching mentors had a huge impact on him, while his mother’s battle with breast cancer was also a tough experience he dealt with behind the scenes.
While Ebden’s mother is now healthy, he said it was a reminder of how precious time was.
And the loss of long-term coach and friend Darren Tandy, in particular, has stayed with the West Australian.
“I find hope in the people around me,” he told Behind the Racquet. “Even while Darren was in the hospital, I found myself playing for him. Tennis became bigger than just myself. The fear of losing becomes insignificant because it isn’t life and death, which is what he was fighting for.”
Read the full story here.