BTT: So, what are you doing now, and where are you based?
NS: Police Officer in Perth, Western Australia
BTT: You enjoyed a lot of success over your career, which moments stand out to you?
NS: Qualifying with Stoney (Sarah Stone) for Wimby 2003, ringing home and having mum and sister fly over. Too many funny moments to mention, a lot of good times and laughs on tour.
BTT: How long before you officially retired were you thinking about the end of your career and what was the actual process of quitting like for you?
NS: Probably for 3/6 months prior, after competing at AO 2005 in doubles, I knew that the competitiveness and belief I had in myself had gone. Even though I knew that I couldn’t continue to try and play anymore, it was daunting as playing tennis had been my whole life, and I didn’t have a clear direction. I felt that whenever I returned home, I was Nicole, the tennis player and having conversations with people revolved around tennis, I wanted more than that.
BTT: What was life like for you immediately after retiring?
NS: I ended up getting into hitting and then coaching, doing my TA coaching levels and working for Tennis West. I was travelling with juniors and trying to give back what I had learnt. Being able to travel a little bit was great because that was part of what I missed from life on tour.
BTT: What advice would you have for a current player in terms of preparing for life after the tour?
NS: To keep your options open, when on tour you might think you have little time to study but in the real world working a 40 plus hour week, staying fit and raising a family is when you realise how much time you had on your hands. Studying may have created an easier move when the time comes to stop.
BTT: When players retire, they often speak about feeling quite isolated – is this something you had to deal with?
NS: Yes to stop at 24 years of age most friends were studying or working and I’d lost contact with most after high school. I was lucky I had a high school friend who always stayed in contact even when I was distant so when I made the move home I was able to be introduced to her group friends and now 15 years later we are all close.
BTT: What involvement do you still have in the tennis industry? And in the tennis world more generally?
NS: It’s been ten years since I stopped working in the industry. I have no involvement anymore. I try to play State League pennant, but that has been infrequent as I have been pregnant twice in the last four years.
BTT: Since retiring, do you ever find time to catch up with old tennis mates?
NS: I always have time for old tennis mates, being in WA we are a little isolated, so when people come over either coaching or playing in some of the ITF events it’s great to see some familiar faces. I also went to South Africa to visit a close mate and her family a few years back and went to Holland to see some old tour friends and of course when in Melb always make an effort to see as many as possible 🙂
BTT: Most athletes have a distinct purpose aspiring to be the best they can….with that chapter closed, what would you say your goal is now?
NS: Be the best person I can be in life, especially for my family and kids. I want to be able to give them all the opportunities I had and to be able to do what they love and reach their potential. Living in Western Australia, I’m really fortunate, when I was 14 I couldn’t wait to leave and travel the big wide world now I appreciate how good we have it here and just how lucky we are!
It was great to catch up with you, Nicole; we can’t wait to see you at one of our future Beyond The Tour events!