Friday, 1 November 2013


When i was a kid first starting to play Tournaments in Perth i recall watching some fellow juniors play , hoping that one day i would be good enough to match it with them . Out of all the juniors that i saw one stood out from the rest , Paul Kilderry , a kid who was taught by his Father Rob to play and a kid who's shot making was inspiring. I first saw Paul play at the East Fremantle Tennis Club during The Coca Cola Junior Tournament , at the time the State's biggest competition for juniors , the numbers for the tournament were huge . From memory Paul played up a couple of age groups as kids his own age didn't get close to him , in fact i believe at age 12 he contested the 18's , and his height was even more remarkable , four foot nothing...
There was always a huge crowd at the back of the court to see him play , such was the ability of his game at such a young age , there weren't too many shots 'Killer' couldn't do as well as the best 18 year olds in the State. This particular tournament I first saw him play i believe he lost in the Semi's against a touring Swedish player by the name of Christian Christensen , a great match with the Swede saving a couple of match points.(my memory for scores , stats and names even surprises myself sometimes ,4-6, 7-5 , 6-1 , should be in the East Fremantle Tennis Club archives somewhere).
The next time i saw Paul play was in The West Australian Open Doubles final where he teamed with Roger Grant , the State's best male player at the time and who also once had a victory over former Swedish World number 1 Stefan Edberg (2-6, 7-6, 7-6). Roger and young Paul who may have been 13 at the time took on the State's best Men's Doubles combination at the time of David Culley and Mark Leuba and this match was incredible , played at Royal Kings Park Tennis Club. From a 2-6 deficit in the third set tie breaker 'Killer and Roger reeled off 6 straight points to take the title and one thing stood out for me that match , the young fellow's 'lack of fear' against the 'big boys'. His ability to not be intimidated by guys much older and physically stronger than him was the one thing that set him aside from other juniors and his shot making under extreme pressure , especially in the final tie breaker was mesmerizing.
Paul went on to not only travel the World playing the game but he had a standout victory in Florida one year against Wimbledon Champion Richard Krajicek and he reached a career high of 138 in 1995. Paul also travelled regularly with his good mate Pat Rafter as his hitting partner and from memory again i believe he was asked to practice with legends such as Andre Agassi and Boris Becker, such was his ability.
Now days when i teach kids to play i often think back to Paul Kilderry's ability at age 12 and wonder if his standard was one of a kind , i have never seen a kid close to his ability in the last 30 years . It does however give me the 'benchmark' in my head as to what standard needs to be reached to even have a chance at making a living from the game and it also helps me teach Tennis with a 'realistic' approach.....

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