After initially beginning his career in other pursuits, Phil moved to coaching his great love, tennis. After a period coaching in the USA he began his career at Merton Rd. Tennis Centre 27 years ago. This is when the facility opened. He was a foundation stone of the complex’s tennis operations.
Whilst he served as regional coach, and was involved with junior performance, Phil found his niche coaching people who were taking up tennis for the first time, returning to tennis or regular club players.
He had a skill to inspire and motivate these players. He loved it as much as his students.
A rough calculation indicates that Phil would have coached 30,000+ players (of course not unique individuals, but many weekly returnees), delivering 20,000 coaching hours, and hitting, literally, hundreds of thousands of tennis balls.
Everyone knew that Phil owned Court 6 at Merton Rd. There can be barely another coach with a twenty-seven year tenure on just 1 court. The other centre coaches knew they allowed to use the court when he was not there, but that it was Phil’s court that they were borrowing!
A poignant moment earlier this week one of his players brought in flowers and asked if they could sit on court 6 and reflect. What a fantastic illustration of the impact this man had on people – he made a difference.
So much so, Tennis Auckland will honour his name and memory on Court 6, installing a plaque bearing his name on the court.
Whilst both Phil and his older brother Don have their club affiliation to Royal Oak, Phil was also a proud member of the International Lawn Tennis Club of New Zealand. In recent years his competitive spirit was reignited, and he participated in Tennis Masters – both National Teams Event (representing Auckland) and Age Group Nationals. He had secured a number of national age group titles.
A lifelong learner, he loved analysing the game, always asking questions and freely commenting on players strengths and weaknesses over a beer. He had a constant yearning to learn more – how he could improve his game. He would ask coaches/players he respected for input – some of these coaches were not even born when Phil started coaching! Although competitive on court, he was a team player, a valued and respected member of the current Tennis Auckland Coaching team.
On behalf of all of the tennis players and coaches Phil knew, was mates with, played with and played against – and all the players he coached over the years, we recognise a huge contribution to the game, infectious enthusiasm and an inspiring personality. You have done Tennis Auckland proud and we thank you for that.