Australia's most-read about sportsman in 2015, Nick Kyrgios.
Australia's most-read about sportsman in 2015, Nick Kyrgios. FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

OPINION: C’mon, give the young tennis players a break

EVERY tennis season for the past few years, the headlines have painted the same negative picture of Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios.

Whenever I am bombarded by this negative press and the temptation to jump on the 'hate on Kyrgios' bandwagon arises, I think back to a conversation I had with my grandad last year.

My grandad is a former keen tennis player and grew up in the era of Australian tennis great Rod Laver. He even played a few games against 'The Rocket'.

Last year when the question was posed to him "what do you think about this Kyrgios fella?", I was keen to hear his answer.

My grandad replied "you just have to be patient with these young fellas".

That has stuck with me.

Last week we celebrated the tennis career of Lleyton Hewitt. The media and general public fell at his feet singing praises of "what a legend", "what a champion" and "tennis won't be the same without Hewitt".

But flashback 16 years and the media and general public had a very different view of the then "bad boy" of tennis.

Hewitt was well known for clashing with coaches, umpires, opponents, linesmen and fans. In his "bad boy" phase, Hewitt called match officials "spastics" and called the Australian public "stupid". Yet, by the end of his career, Hewitt was dubbed a champion, a mentor, a "tennis great". Everyone conveniently forgot his past mistakes.

While I certainly don't condone Kyrgios actions, I'll continue to cheer for him when he steps on the court because, well, you have to patient with a 20-year-old bloke with a heck of a lot of pressure on his shoulders. In another 16 years he might just be considered a champion, mentor and "tennis great" too.


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