One year ago the men’s tour, the ATP World Tour, officially welcomed their new Executive Chairman and President to the fold, Brad Drewett, an Australian with a wealth of tennis knowledge from being a player through...
One year ago the men’s tour, the ATP World Tour, officially welcomed their new Executive Chairman and President to the fold, Brad Drewett, an Australian with a wealth of tennis knowledge from being a player through to the administration of the sport. On 15 January, 2013 the tennis world was shocked and incredibly saddened to hear that Brad had been diagnosed with what is known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, an auto-immune disease. This is by far the toughest blog I have had to write because it is a personal blog. It is from the heart. The news rocked me just as it did everyone in tennis and while I am definitely nowhere near being the most important person Brad deals with in his life or on a daily basis, nor am I a family member but at the same time I have known Brad for over 35 years. Brad and I grew up at the same time in the same suburb of Sydney, the leafy suburb of Killarney Heights on the north side of Sydney. We went to rival schools but he was the golden haired boy of Aussie tennis. He had a beach look more than a tennis player look with a thick mop of blonde hair but he did possess a left-handed game that carried him well. He had reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and I and my other tennis playing mates made it a point of heading to the local tennis courts to practice thinking one day what he had done could rub off. The man who operated the courts would say: “Trying to do a Drewett, eh?” He would then leave the court with a bemused smile. I followed Brad’s progress on the tour and then after and obviously we crossed paths all the time. We sat next to each other on international flights, we discussed the game and he would share his insights. He had strong opinions and even though you may not have agreed with them, he still commanded respect because he was passionate about this wonderful sport of ours. That commitment to tennis has never left him and never will. Exactly twelve months ago I sat down with Brad and did a video blog for We Are Tennis. He had just been appointed to his role at the top of the ATP World Tour. I asked him what the biggest win was in his career and he said beating Ken Rosewall. I told him he was wrong and Brad looked at me quizzically. I told him it was beating me in Wollongong (a place two hours south of Sydney). “How could I have forgotten that,” was his response. Well he did again minutes later when I asked him once more, again he nominated the Rosewall match. And then there was last July when I was at his Birthday party and he was so happy with all his family and friends.I thought back to all those things when I was told the sad news. A tear came to my eye and I felt like I was shaking. It was news that was not remotely expected. We all knew Brad had been struggling with his voice and I had messaged him just before Christmas asking how the proposed surgery to fix the problem had gone. He messaged back to say he didn’t have the op but was given new medication to try and he felt there had been an improvement. I was looking forward to seeing him at the Australian Open to see how he was getting on, but that didn’t happen. Once the news broke his privacy was of paramount importance and rightly so. I remain shocked and sad and feel for his lovely wife and children as I thought back to those innocent days in the 70’s when the world was at our feet. This is just not fair. Stay strong my friend.