Name: Greg Jones
Home State: NSW
Current Residence: Melbourne VIC
Playing Period: 2010 -2018
Beyond the Tour IC
BTT: So what are you doing now and where are you based?
GJ: I am currently working with XSOAR and Wesley College as a tennis coach of the High-Performance Program and as the Girls 1st Tennis coach. I am also staying active as a hitting partner with Tennis Australia, practicing with current pros and upcoming juniors. I am toward the end of my second (of three) Tennis Australia coaching course. I am studying an online entrepreneurship course, having previously finished a Business Fundamentals course through the same provider.
BTT: Looking back at your playing career, what are some of the moments or achievements you are most proud and share with us the funniest or most memorable moment?
GJ: Playing five sets in the Main Draw Singles on Margaret Court at the Australian Open, and winning a Commonwealth Games Silver Medal in 2010 Delhi were main highlights, along with the five ATP Challenger singles finals. I think any time I was able to play at a Grand Slam, I have really fond memories of as they were all super exciting and the stuff dreams are made of! But the Aussie fans singing Waltzing Matilda during the warm-up of my Aussie Open match, as well as being on the Podium in Delhi while the national anthem was playing were both pretty surreal experiences.
BTT: Reflecting on your pro tennis career, what are the takeaways from it? And how did it prepare you for life beyond?
GJ: It was an incredibly exciting and challenging journey of self-learning and development, with many, many quite high highs and pretty low lows. It taught me a lot about perspective and made everything else seem achievable/not that difficult. Still, I am well aware of the sacrifices that success at an elite level in anything requires, and that can be daunting. I don’t think I would go back and change anything, but I also would not be able to do that journey again. Answering the second part of the question, while it certainly shaped me to be the person that I am today, I don’t think it prepared me for the ‘real world’ whatsoever – life on tour can be incredibly insular. It’s sometimes hard to understand what a ‘regular life’ would be like (compared to tour life).
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?
GJ: I think like many players I had been thinking about ending my professional tennis career for many years before I eventually did, perhaps 5-6 years at least. I think that is normal due to the financial strains the sport places on you, along with being away from friends and family for many months in a row at a time, whilst doing it all at quite a young age. The actual process was very natural for me – I picked up a hitting partner job at Australian Open with Caroline Wozniacki (the year she won the tournament) and then interviewed for the job at Wesley during the Australian Open, which began about a week after. I think most of my friends and family knew I was toward the end of my professional tennis player journey, so it wasn’t really too much of a shock to anyone.
BTT: When you retired, what was your daily life like and was it a difficult transition for you?
GJ: I retired a little over two years ago, and I think the transition has been quite easy for me so far because I have remained in the tennis industry. So I still keep in touch with many of the same people and am working in the same field, although the lifestyle is very different. I have more freedom and life is certainly more calm being in one place, but I do miss some of the roller coaster-like highs that playing on tour brought – I balance these thoughts with the knowledge (I have gained through experience), I certainly don’t miss the lows in my more stable current life.
BTT: What services could do you think could help athletes with the transition period?
GJ: I think I am very fortunate to live in a wonderful country and have a good support network, so it has been ok for me, but I do worry for other former players in different circumstances. I think a career counsellor/planner would be very beneficial, most information you can find online but having a professional push, prod and someone to encourage you in a certain direction which matches your personal strengths would be helpful.
BTT: What advice would you have for a current player in terms of preparing for life after the tour?
GJ: Start doing it now! You should be studying or having interests/hobbies other than tennis for so many reasons including improved tennis performance, well being and of course looking after your future. If all your eggs are in one basket, you are running a huge personal risk.
BTT: When players retire, they often speak about feeling quite isolated – is this something you experienced?
GJ: Definitely not. Being an Australian tennis player on the road for a good five months at a time, I found life on tour quite isolating. Having a home and being in one place allows you to connect with friends, family and have relationships far easier than being in a city for one week at a time with no end in sight. Of course, I do miss certain international friends, but overall being in one place has undoubtedly made socializing easier and strengthened most of my relationships with close friends.
BTT: ther than coaching, are you still connected to the professional world of tennis?
GJ: Obviously, I am still working in the tennis industry, but I do still have quite an involvement in the tennis world as a lot of the friends I made along the way are still currently tennis professionals and I regularly stay in touch with quite a few of them. So I still hear a lot of what is still going on with the tour, and their frustrations as well as what they are enjoying. I still enjoy going to watch and support my friends each year at the Australian Open.
BTT: Since retiring, do you ever find time to catch up with old tennis mates?
GJ: Yes, we have a group who is in regular contact and then some of my closest friends who also live in Melbourne. I have known them all for a long time by sharing a similar tennis journey.
BTT: Would you like to reconnect or have more opportunities to connect with the former player community? How important is this to you?
GJ: Not overly to be honest, as I am already in contact with a lot of my old friends. It is important to me, but I am also quite fresh out of playing, so I think I don’t mind having a bit of a break from that world as I was probably a bit burnt out from it all. Perhaps as more time passes, I will look to reconnect with a few more international friends.
BTT: Most athletes have an apparent purpose aspiring to be the best they can….with that chapter closed, what would you say your purpose is now?
GJ: That’s a very good question and for sure the most difficult/challenging one to answer. To be honest, I’m not sure I have completely found my post-playing days purpose, but I think that’s ok because it takes time and can be a very difficult question for anyone to answer, not just athletes. For now, I am happy trying to help the players and families I work with on their own tennis journey, and I try to encourage as many people I can to start playing and continue to play tennis as much as possible because it is a great sport and teaches you so much. If that purpose changes or evolves, I am sure I will be ready to roll with it whenever that may be using the many lessons I learnt during my time on the professional tennis circuit.
Jonesie congrats on a great career, we are thrilled to have you as one of our Beyond The Tour members!