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Tennis • 10sBalls • Ricky’s Trip To The Home of Australian Tennis : The Kooyong Club And Museum

By Ricky Dimon

They say you learn something every day. That may not always be true, but I definitely learned something when I paid a visit to the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club during my trip to the Australian Open last month.

I had always known the Kooyong Club as the home of the Kooyong Classic, an exhibition event that takes place every year just prior to the Aussie Open. It gives players–often some of the best in the world–a chance to fine-tune their games in advance of the season’s first Grand Slam. In other words, players go to Kooyong before they take their talents to Melbourne Park.

But I had no idea that players–all of them–used to go to Kooyong for the Australian Open. That’s right; unbeknownst to me, the Aussie was played at the Kooyong Club from 1972 through 1988. And, until the move in 1988, it was played on grass!

Of course, the club is known as “The Spiritual Home of Australian Tennis” for much more than just the Aussie Open. After all, it has been around dating back much farther than 1972. The Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club was established in 1892 to be the centerpiece of tennis in the colony of Victoria. It grew in stature 15 years later when Melbourne native Norman Brookes won Wimbledon. Thereafter it hosted numerous Davis Cup ties and the Australian national championships. The Kooyong Classic has been held since 1988, with champions such as Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, and Andy Roddick, plus Australia’s own Darren Cahill, Mark Philippoussis, Lleyton Hewitt, and–believe it or not!–Bernard Tomic.

Our display of tennis (that is mine, my dad’s, and my brother’s) may not have been up to those standards…but, hey, we at least got to play! And for free! Yes, when there isn’t anything else going on at the club you can just walk up and take a clay court. First come, first serve.

We mostly played on one of the 22 clay courts (there are also 26 grass courts and three Plexicushion), all of which were in perfect shape. But we at least got to walk on the grass courts…and, best of all, hit on stadium court (still a hard-court surface). That happened because a friendly local guy who was playing on a clay court next to us stopped to tell us some of the club’s history (that’s how we heard about the Australian Open previously being hosted at Kooyong). He also told us we could probably hit some on stadium court if we just walked over there.

That’s exactly what we did, and it was–in fact–open for business. There were some repairs going on now that the Kooying Classic is over until 2021 and what looked like a serious junior player was getting ready to have some sort of official hit, but we still got to play on it for a while.

We were also free to tour the clubhouse, getting a look at all kinds of trophies won by Australian players–most recently John Peers at a couple of Nitto ATP Finals.

After a couple of hours at Kooyong, we were off to the new home of the Australian Open–Melbourne Park–to see how the pros do it. A great start to a great day of tennis.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note • we begged Ricky to write this for us. We love Kooyong. We wish we had known they were headed that way • as 10sBalls has been a contributor to Their beautiful Tennis museum. We could have gotten those guys on the grass courts. Hope there’s a next time The for the Dimon Boys.