Advantage, Fitzpatrick: Tennis veteran prepares to compete in his 60th South Suburban Tennis Tournament

Colin Fitzpatrick (84) of Ferndale.  He will take part in the South Suburban Tennis Tournament. Photo: David Baylis
Colin Fitzpatrick (84) of Ferndale. He will take part in the South Suburban Tennis Tournament. Photo: David Baylis

IN 1957, a young man named Colin Fitzpatrick made his debut appearance at the South Suburban Tennis Tournament.

Fast forward to 2019 and Fitzpatrick is preparing to take the court for his 60th, and potentially final, appearance in the doubles at the tournament.

The Ferndale resident has entered the tournament every year bar two since his debut, but at 84-years-old, said this year could be his last serve of action.

“I’m playing with people I don’t know and I’d hate to be playing very badly and we lose because of me,” he said.

“It costs them $20 to enter the event – at this stage I say at the end, ‘I’ll give you $20 for losing that one.’

“It’s a good figure to finish on; 60 sounds better than 61.”

Born in Cannington in 1935, Fitzpatrick played a variety of sports in his youth and said his favourite doubles partner was a certain Ted “Square” Kilmurray, the 1958 Sandover Medallist and East Perth Football Club legend who was named in the AFL’s Indigenous Team of the Century.

“We were partners in the South Suburban A Grade for quite a lot of years and we never got beaten,” he said.

Fitzpatrick’s most notable match was a clash with dual grand-slam doubles runner-up Clive Wilderspin at a Kings Park tournament, which he had entered in order to get a free ticket to watch the rest of the day’s play.

“I went up to the committee and said ‘could you tell me when my match is’ and they said ‘You’re on next on centre court against Clive Wilderspin,” he said.

“Unfortunately, my memory has gone completely. I cannot remember walking onto the court, hitting one ball or coming off the court.

“It turned out he beat me 6-2 6-2 6-2, which was unbelievable. I think he must have been playing left-handed.”

If he does call it curtains after this year’s tournament, it will not be the last time Fitzpatrick takes the court; he simply loves the game too much to stay away.

“To me, it’s just a friendly game, you’ve got to enjoy it, win, lose or draw. I don’t smash my racquets like the blokes on telly…because I’ve only got one racquet,” he said with a chuckle.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a top player, you still can enjoy it, which I’ve done for a lot of years and I’d like to be still going when I’m 94.

“If I wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t be playing. I don’t want to get old, but I suppose you can’t help that.”