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Yarrawonga's master coach Coleman retiring

After a tennis career spanning 62 years, of which the last 35 years have been as a coach, Yarrawonga's Jon Coleman is set to retire at the end of 2013.

ROBERT MUIR December 3, 2013 4:27pm

Coaching well over 100 juniors in Yarrawonga and district every weekday, and many adults has provided much enjoyment to the much decorated 75-year-old, as well as plenty of success stories.

"I love to see kids improving. It gives you a lot of satisfaction," he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

"It puts a smile on my face to see kids hit the ball over the net."

Yarrawonga Lawn Tennis Club President John Arnold described the club's coach as "a fantastic bloke". "Jon has done a wonderful job coaching over a lot of years," the president said.

"He's been marvellous, very professional yet makes tennis fun for those he teaches and his social interaction is appreciated by all, including himself!"

When Jon arrived in Yarrawonga as National Australia Bank Manager in 1977, his tennis background, since 1953, included club champion of numerous clubs and regions, such as Casterton, Holbrook, Swan Hill, Ballarat, Wangaratta, central Wimmera and Western Victoria, competing against visiting international, national teams, and since 1974, a coaching role at Jeparit.

His time at Yarrawonga includes roles of club captain, senior vice president, acting president, treasurer of Country Week VCTA and Tennis Victoria, referee at several Yarrawonga Easter tournaments, court supervisor at satellite tournaments and, as  a player, 11-time club champion.

Jon was appointed coach for the Yarrawonga area with Custom Credit Corporation Victoria Operation Tennis (Newcombe and Roche Scheme) and travelled country Victoria with a local squad.

Following 15 years of coaching on an honorary basis in Yarrawonga and his retirement from the bank in 1994, Jon began coaching on a professional basis. He became an accredited Level 2 ATPCA Coach that year and in 1996, qualified as a Tennis Australia certified club professional coach. Also in 1996, Jon was appointed VCTA Coach for Yarrawonga and continued until 2000 when Yarrawonga Lawn Tennis Club transferred to Tennis Victoria and has since been the Yarrawonga Tennis Victoria Squad.

In 2007 Jon was thrilled to receive an invitation from Tennis Victoria's Brian Beers to act as coach at the Melbourne Park Tennis Centre with the latest Talent Search program. "That was a real highlight, also hitting with Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall and Neale Fraser in 1954 at Kooyong and training with the South African Davis Cup team were other highlights.

"I've loved playing and coaching. I enjoy seeing people improve, enabling them to enjoy a lifetime in tennis as well as make tennis fun for all, no matter what standard."

For many, that standard has been high, with Pat Nicholls world number 2 in 16 age group, and the likes of Sebastian Bell, Brooke Flanigan, Kylie McPherson, Jessie Butts, Nick Francis, Josh Bueckner, John Brunner, Mark Mills, Corowa's Maddison Tobias and Wangaratta's Leeton Spriggs starring in the sport at state and national levels, or overseas. Many current youngsters coached by Jon have plenty of potential and are sure to reach high levels too. 

Jon has enjoyed hitting with the likes of Yarrawonga's own Wimbledon representative John McCurdy,  Victorian inter region singles champion Gary Page, Noel Thomas, Peter Thomas, Jim Long, Joe Dixon, Ian McPherson, Glen Stevenson and Dean Langford on Yarrawonga's courts described by Tennis Victoria and Tennis Australia officials over the years as second to none.

Jon praised his wife Fay who has also made many friends through tennis at Yarrawonga.

"Special thanks go to Fay for her wonderful support over the years," he said of his wife who was a keen tennis player, a Nhill Tennis Club singles champion and who loved the ladies day tournaments throughout the north-east. 

"I've thoroughly appreciated the support and encouragement from so many at the Yarrawonga Lawn Tennis Club over the years which includes all the squad assistants and Jim Campbell for training me to help run the Easter tournament."

Jon Coleman, who also loves a hit of golf and once played off a seven handicap, has been formally recognised for his contribution to tennis, the club and juniors.

Awards include being made a Legend at Wangaratta Tennis Club; in Yarrawonga, Godfather of the Year 2002, Club person of the year 2006 and Outstanding Service to the club 2005.

Jon's tennis service as player, administrator and coach has been outstanding for over six decades.   

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