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Cash brings Aussie-style flair and fame to younger countrymen

September 25, 2011 02:27 PM
Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.
Pat Cash and Mark Woodforde with the 16-and-Under Australian Davis Cup Team.
Aussie legends Pat Cash and Mark Woodforde.
By John Freeman, special to USTA.com

Rancho Mirage, California –
Pat Cash watched intently as his young charges went through a bang-bang-bang doubles drill. He didn’t like what he was seeing, so he leaped up and shouted, "Move bloody forward on your volleys!"

The former Wimbledon champion shook his head in disgust.

"I’ve got a 16-year-old kid who’s 6-3 and serves 140 mph," said Cash. "I’m trying to teach him there’s more to the game than slammin’ the ball all the time."

On adjacent courts during the USTA’s 2.5 National Championships at Mission Hills Country Club, one of tennis’ most storied resorts, the 16-and-under Australian Davis Cup teams (boys and girls) honed their games under Cash’s unforgiving eye. Starting Monday, the teams take on their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City.

"There’s only one Pat Cash," said the team’s coach, Mark Woodforde, half of the famous "Woodies" doubles duo with fellow Aussie Todd Woodbridge.

"We don’t have a ton of players who are champions. We need to get back that feeling. He’s made his name, but he’s also up-to-date with the way the game is going."

Not pleased with that direction, Cash preaches the "all-around" game.

"It’s getting so you get average athletes who hit the ball hard, but that’s all they do," he said. "I tell ‘em, that’s not good enough if you want to be champion."

Cash, who resides in London, reflects fondly on his fabled Wimbledon singles title of 1987. His celebratory climb into the stands became overnight Fortnight lore. "It’s been 25 years and it seems like a lifetime ago," he said. "They’ve gone by quickly, I’ll say that."

Wearing his trademark black-and-white checked headband, the chiseled Cash looks like he could compete on the pro tour, even at 46. He’s super-fit, nearly enough, he says, to give his favorite sport another "go." That would be Australian Rules Football, which he played growing up in Melbourne.

"No question, that’s the toughest, fittest sport there is," he said, as if anyone would argue with him. "You need it all – strength, speed, endurance."

Before his tennis career blossomed, Cash followed his late father as an Australian Rules standout. These days, he honors his father with a bright red rose tattoo on his left forearm. Underneath, the inscription reads: "This too shall pass."

"It’s all about the good and bad of life," said Cash, who got the "tat" after his father’s passing several years ago. "He’s still with me every day."

Woodforde describes his countryman as "very Australian…Cashy’s always been his own man. He likes a good laugh, but he’s tough and rugged and he doesn’t put up with any BS."

Cash likes that description, but points out that since his mother was American, "I was raised on peanut butter and jelly and vegemite," he said. "It’s pretty nasty, but that’s the way I like it."


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