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Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
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BY BERNADETTE DUGGAN
To be compared with one of the country's
most loved tennis players and world
number one champion, Pat Rafter, might
cause some to lose the run of themselves,
but not level-headed St Mary's Maitland
student and rising tennis star, Matthew
Tennis is a sport often marred by
temperamental outbursts and big egos
so it is refreshing to come across a player
determined to keep his head down and
remain a quiet achiever.
And that's not always easy, particularly
in a sport where players are under a lone
spotlight and constantly reminded of their
score in what is often a highly-charged
According to NSW Combined Catholic
Colleges (NSWCCC) Tennis Team Manager,
Rachael Elcoate, Matthew has "a dignified
determination akin to the qualities of
Pat Rafter -- a champion who always
maintained a gracious manner on court and
respect for his opponents that endeared
him to fans around the world".
Such modesty, coupled with his impressive
sporting ability, has seen Matthew shine.
He has represented the State in the CCC
tennis competitions for the past four years.
This year he was selected in the NSW All
Schools Team which travelled to Adelaide
for the School Sport Australia Tennis
Championships (Pizzey Cup).
The Pizzey Cup sees players compete,
state against state, across seven days of
competition. Matthew played a variety of
singles and mixed doubles games and
remarkably, only lost one set throughout the
tournament. His standout performance was
instrumental in NSW being undefeated and
winning the highly prized Pizzey Cup.
This year he also won the Gosford Junior
open and doubles gold level tournament
and in April he won the doubles at the
Sydney Age Championships. His victories
came on top of his achievements last
year when he won the singles and mixed
doubles in Newcastle at the Country
Sport Co-ordinator at St Mary's, Colin
Love, was so impressed with Matthew's
tennis ability he nominated him for the
prestigious Pierre de Coubertin award
which he received last month. "Matthew
is very modest in acknowledging his
achievements," Mr Love said. "He is a very
level- headed boy who is totally committed
to improving his tennis games, and has the
skills, ability and temperament to have a
very successful career in tennis."
Despite playing other sports including
touch, soccer and swimming, tennis has
always been Matthew's passion. You could
say it is in his blood. It's a game his father
loves and one his mother still plays.
Asked about his favourite player, Matthew
doesn't hesitate to name Rafael Nadal. "I
love his athleticism and how he grits it out
and is determined to fight for every point,"
Matthew said. "That's what I love about
tennis -- the competitiveness of the game."
In Year 9 Matthew went to Wimbledon
where he saw a man named Andy Murray
defeat Victor Troicki in a tight four setter. He
remembers clearly the roar of the crowd
and the psychological advantage it gave
Murray which helped him get through the
Matthew has been a ball boy at the Sydney
International and he was very impressed
that most of the players were generous
with their time off court and happy to
engage with their fans. He keenly follows
the careers of players and has a deep
knowledge of the current game.
When discussing the current crop of
Australian tennis stars, Matthew describes
Samantha Stosur as "tough to watch
sometimes", Hewitt as "an absolute fighter"
and Tomic, "well, he's a bit crazy off the
Clearly Matthew aspires one day to join the
ranks of the tennis elite, but for now he is
keen to focus on his own game. When told
how the NSWCCC team manager likened
him to Rafter, he just smiled and said how
much more is going on in his head and that
he is more fired up than people think. The
disguise could prove the most effective
weapon for his continued success.
"I really don't think I would have been able
to achieve what I have without the support
of my family and of course, my coach, Ian
McGregor, who has been with me for nine
years and has taught me so much about
Game, set and match
the game and has given me a lot of self
belief," he said. "My school has also been
fantastic in supporting my career to date."
Looking ahead, Matthew wants to apply for
a tennis scholarship to the United States or
undertake a Degree in Sport Psychology at
the University of Newcastle.
With such a bright future, it seems he has it
all in his court. As long as he maintains his
down to earth attitude and commitment to
succeed in the game he loves, it should be
game, set and match for Matthew.
Bernadette Duggan is Education Officer
Physical Education) at the Catholic
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