Tribute to Ross Sheriff
Ross Sherriff, an outstanding tennis personality and a legendary
coach passed away on the 11th April, 2007. He was well
known to the whole tennis community in Australia and overseas.
In 1938, Ross, then a teller in the Commonwealth Bank in Cowra,
NSW, was transferred to Sydney after being selected in Australia's
Davis Cup Squad. Shortly after this, he married his childhood
sweetheart Doss Dickson, also from Cowra, and they took up
residence in Coogee. Soon after, an opportunity presented itself
in 1950 to purchase 4 tennis courts at Crinan Street, Hurlstone
Park. His career spanned more than 57 years as both a player and a
coach. He is probably best known for developing some of the
greatest tennis talent from Australia, many of whom are mentioned
Ross was a very successful player in his own right. Career
highlights included defeating Rod Laver and Lew Hoad during the
1950's. He also won many country and metropolitan singles, doubles
and mixed doubles titles. Numerous times he won the Canterbury
Bankstown District Open Singles and Doubles Championships.
As a tennis coach, he touched the lives of many young
Australian players. Arguably, Ross has probably coached more
prominent players over the decades than any other coach in
Australian history. Among these players was Martin Mulligan.
Martin became the 3 times singles winner of the Italian
International Championships, runner-up at Wimbledon and in the
1960’s he became the runner-up in the Australian Singles Final,
losing to Rod Laver.
Phil Dent was coached by Ross from the age of 9. In the 1970’s,
Phil achieved prominence by reaching semi final status at
Wimbledon and the French Singles Grand Slams. He was a finalist in
the Australian Open Singles losing to Jimmy Connors. Partnering
John Alexander, Phil also won many doubles titles.
Ross's three children distinguished themselves with success in
the tennis world. Firstly Fred became a top line international
player and coached for many years in Grafton & Northern
Gail represented Australia once in Fed Cup. After marrying a
Frenchman, she took up residence in Paris competing ten times in
Fed Cup for France. She won the French Open Doubles title 4 times
with 2 different partners and under three different names at
Roland Garros (Sherriff, Chanfreau & Lovera). Her second husband
Jean Lovera was the architect who created the "new look" extension
to Roland Garros Tennis Stadium.
Carol reached a semi-final of French Open Doubles at Roland
Garros and quarter finals of Wimbledon Doubles Championships. She
also holds many ITF World Singles and Doubles Titles in Senior
Gail & Carol are the only sisters to have played against each
other in the Wimbledon Singles in the 20th Century.
Tony Roche, well known Aussie tennis personality, also had a
close association with Ross and family. At 15, Tony moved from the
tiny NSW town of Tarcutta to Lakemba, Sydney. Tony trained every
day on the Hurlstone Park courts over the next two years,
improving his game and later became one of Australia's top
players. Tony is currently coaching Roger Federer, the No.1 player
in the world.
Other local players include Jean Leonard (O’Brien), Catherine
Barclay, Debbie Freeman, Trudi Musgrave, Pat Serrett and Rodger
Waugh, father of Stephen and Mark the celebrity cricketing twins.
All these players excelled by winning many tournaments locally and
Ross captained/managed many winning Linton Cup teams and was an
official umpire for a number of years right through to when he was
in his late 70’s.
Ross’s reputation was founded on his great enthusiasm and love
of the game and his teaching style was not only based on the
technical side but he excelled as a great tennis strategist.
Stories abound from Ross’s former pupils, one of whom reminisced
about the time when his lesson was to take place but half the
court was under water. But this didn’t faze Ross. "No problem," he
said, "the other half is perfectly playable!!!" That was Ross.
Amongst other things, he will be remembered for his famous
words uttered to his up and coming players: "I think you have
Ross is survived by his wife Doss who continues to live in
Strathfield, Sydney. They had been married for 64 years. They have
three children, 9 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren
sprinkled around the globe.
Ross was given a wonderful send off at the Northern Suburbs
Crematorium on April 16th. Over 120 people attended and
celebrated his life during the afternoon tea at the home of his
daughter Carol and husband Chris Campling in Denistone. Ross’s
final wish was to have his ashes scattered on Billy Goat Hill at
Cowra where he grew up.
Compiled by:- Gail Benedetti, Carol Campling, Lynne Abbott,
Dick Crealy and Adrian Cotter.