Wednesday, 26 November 2014


From memory Peter Holmes, 'Pete' or 'Holmsey' drove an old Ford that did not have a working speedometer and I have a feeling the fuel gauge didn't function properly either. I am pretty sure that Holmsey simply just guessed how fast he was going and kept his fuel tank topped up.
As far as local sporting identities in Albany were concerned Pete was right up there as far as 'Zen Master's' were concerned. Pete not only played tennis at a level that no one else could touch but his teaching of the game was also legendary.
I am pretty sure that Dad knew Pete from the local Golf Club as tennis wasn't his only sport, I heard he could also swing a golf club fairly well. Come to think of it Squash was another of Holmsey's sports and he played this at the highest level also, I watched him play one day, impressive. Dad knew I needed to learn the intricacies of tennis and there was no better man to teach the game locally than Pete.
Now my first introduction to Holmsey was from memory like meeting a Tennis Professional as I had seen him play at my local club and his standard was remarkably high. I also recall his unique way of talking about the game and the manner in which he spoke, he didn't stop ! In fact Pete spoke so fast and so much that a tiny spot of saliva would form at the corner of his mouth as he would rattle off facts and figures. I was without a doubt in awe of his knowledge. I knew he could help me.
I have always stated that it's one thing to be able to hit a tennis ball, it's another to be able to play tennis, Peter could do both plus he could teach it better than anyone by all reports. We 'hired' Pete. From memory again I believe we initially paid him $12 an hour for him to teach me the finer points of the game which he eventually put up to $15, Pete wasn't in it for the money, obviously. 
That's the one thing that struck me about Pete, he was generous, not in the game for the dollar, it was as though he just did it because he was bloody good at it and there was no one else to do it ! But he was passionate about it, the way he talked, the way he played and the way he taught the game, he was a man to be respected. 
The trips in his car out to the local tennis club were also educational as he would give me his version of what was going on in World Tennis and how to improve my game. I suppose that even though at the time I didn't realize it I was not only getting taught on court, I was learning the game on the drive to and from the club also.
Pete was teaching me how to play tennis and he did it so well that within maybe 6 to 8 months I could actually give him a decent hit. He always beat me but I made him play plenty of balls.
I am sure I use his philosophies each time I do a lesson now days, you never forget who taught you to play the game and you never forget how you were taught. That tuition if it has substance will always be in the fore front of your mind if you teach it yourself one day. The tactical side of tennis is what will just about always beat the opposition who just have flair without the knowledge. Pete taught me tactics.
I will never forget just a few months after turning 14 I drew the reigning Club Champion John Knuimann in the first round of our Club Championships .
John had won the title on perhaps 3 or 4 occasions and he had a great serve and volley so his style suited me, he gave me targets. I stood back 10 foot behind the base line as my hero 'Borgie' did and I pushed him all the way in a 5-7, 4-6 loss.
Within 6 months of learning tactics with Pete I had a win over John that I will never forget. It was a night match at our indoor venue and I played John in a best of three match that I won 2 and 3 then in one more practice set I beat him 6-4.  I was learning how to play.
My fourteenth year was a time where I had learned that hitting on a wall was one thing but understanding how to play tennis was another.
Peter Holmes had a remarkably knowledgeable way of teaching tennis and I am disappointed that I was too young at the time to have really appreciated his input into my tennis. He gave my game substance that without his coaching would only have ever been 'tactical cannon fodder'. Holmsey could walk the walk, talk the talk, he could have made a player out of a card board cut out, genius.........
Part 7 to follow

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