Almanac Tennis – Has Kooyong had the gong?

For the last few years I had been meaning to check out Melbourne’s legendary former tennis home, where blokes like Newk and Kenny and Rocket and Emmo and JA had done such heroic deeds for Australia, back when they all wore white and 12 of the last 16 in any Grand Slam were from Queensland (with another couple from NSW or Victoria most likely), and the likes of Nick and Bernie would have been turned back before they got as close as the far side of Scotch.


The ‘Kooyong Classic’ is held as a practice tournament the week before the start of the Oz Open, as a nod to history. But you do wonder for how much longer.

The value is not great – $30 for a maximum eight sets plus tiebreakers, with no outside attractions. The venue is full of no-go zones and it was hard to go ten paces in any direction without some ancient crone who looked and sounded just like Bronwyn Bishop asking Sir if she could see his ticket. The place itself looks the three T’s, none of which stand for tennis…..tired, tatty and tarted-up.


But the most disappointing thing was the total absence of any memorabilia from the ‘golden era’ – no Hall of Fame, no pics, no plaques, no artwork of any kind, not so much as an old Cinzano or Brut ad to indicate that John Newcombe and co had ever set foot here.


It is probably also the largest piece of real estate in inner Melbourne NOT to have any advertising for the upcoming Open. I’m happy I saw some tennis at Kooyong, the only time I’d been there before was to see Stevie Wonder in 1987, but the glory days are long gone and I have missed them, but judging by their attitude the gatekeepers couldn’t give a toss except maybe they need the money so they open their Stately Home up to the plebs once a year (and hope like hell they don’t pilfer too much crockery). A real shame.


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  1. Mick Jeffrey says

    Sadly with the ATPs version of the JLT series being introduced next year, I’m guessing the days of any matches at Kooyong are numbered.

  2. Great memories of Kooyong. Blistering heat and blistering serves on the grass. Edo besting Newk in 5. JA in Davis Cup epics.
    Sometimes memories are best left as just that. Nubile girlfriends gone frumpy. Team mates gone bald and paunchy. Who is that bloke in the mirror?
    The AO is a great tournament and the highlight of summer for me. Onward and upward.

  3. Rick – yes I’ve been going to Kooyong every year since my youngest lad showed an interest in tennis about 10 years back. We didn’t go this year. I asked if he wanted a ticket and his answer was “Nah”. Not much enthusiasm.

    Kooyong reminds me of the Stawell Gift. Once great. Once brilliant! Now left on the shelf like a Solzhenitsyn masterpiece. Ignored. Belittled even. Its a great shame. History now is the study of what’s happened since 2009. We have BC and AD. Now we have AI – After Internet.(Or maybe After Intellect).

    Its a bit like a living museum. Except that the heartbeat is fading fast. One day there will be a grand announcement! The stadium is being bulldozed so 173 new dog boxes called New York-style apartments can be built on the site. It will be called Kooyong Mews, or the Tennis Towers or some other glib nonsense. And at the front door will be a brass tennis racket out of respect for its glorious past. Eventually, of course, it will turn into a ghetto.

  4. The neighbours would probably be very keen to ensure the worst aspects of Dips’ nightmare scenario don’t happen….Scotch College.

  5. Led Zeppelin in 1972, seated just in front of the left speaker stack
    My ears are still ringing!

  6. Mark – would give my right arm to go back in time and attend that concert, but I was only 8!

  7. Still a great place for lunch. You can feel the spirit of the Dunlop Volley in the joint.

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