Australian tennis player John-Patrick Smith is giving back to his community as instead of competing at the upcoming US Open, he is giving tennis lessons in his hometown of Townsville. In July, a well-known Townsville tennis coach Wayne Hannah unexpectedly passed away and Smith now wants to give back to the community in which he grew up.
Smith, ranked at No. 91 in doubles, was coached by Hannah during his childhood days before he turned professional in 2012. “He was a great friend and a great mentor to a lot of people,” Smith said of his childhood coach, per Tennis Australia.
“He wasn’t just a coach, he was someone I could always trust and talk to and rely on. “Wayne was always a guy who encouraged you to play tennis and loved the sport, so he’ll want us to kind of continue his legacy there.
“I’ve stepped into the role to help out as much as I can while we try and piece it all together. It’s really tough to replace someone as great as Wayne”.
Smith now values being able to compete even more
Earlier this year, Smith made Australian Open mixed doubles semifinal with fellow compatriot Astra Sharma.
Last year, Smith and Sharma also had a deep run together at Melbourne Park, ending runners-up in the mixed doubles event. “I obviously had a good run here in Australia in summer and then COVID hit,” Smith said.
“But it’s the same thing for every player, everyone had to go home and isolate and be away from the game. But now, it’s given me more of an appreciation to go out there and play and compete and you know, treasure these moments on the court because it can be taken away from you so quickly”.
Smith claims he will never forget where he made his first tennis steps and he wants to help the kids of Townsville to achieve their dreams. “I just want to give other Townsville juniors what Wayne did for me,” Smith related to the Townsville Bulletin.
“When I’m back in Townsville I do as much as I can with the juniors, the club and the members. “I’m always going to support the club that supported me on the way up”.