Name: Kane Dewhurst
Home State: Victoria
Playing period: 1997 to 2002
Current City: Melbourne
Kane it been great to see you stayed in tennis, tell us a bit more about how your company Vida got started?
When I made the decision to stop playing, I still had a passion for tennis but did not enjoy the ‘life on the road’ side of the sport. I started coaching at the Veneto Club in Bulleen with Vince Dattoli, who’s family I stayed with a lot as a junior. Like many former players, I was very keen to work with performance players, as this is where I felt most comfortable. I soon realised that I had credibility as a coach because I could hit the ball but needed to learn how to coach. An early mentor advised me to start by working with all levels of players and all types of coaching, which gave me a good understanding of how to develop a program, a player, and a club. It also helped me to develop skills in communication with the various levels of players and stakeholders in the game.
At Vida we continued to focus on performance and in the early 2000’s had multiple players achieve some great results, winning nationals, achieving world rankings ect. As our business grew, I soon realised I had a passion for the business aspect of the sporting industry and started on the journey of getting educated in this space. My passion for tennis and business was then combined to enable us to grow people to help grow Vida into what it is today, Vida Tennis, Vida Fitness, Vida Footy and Vida Mind.
Were you thinking about the next steps in the few years before you retired from playing?
To be honest, not really. I had no real plan when I finished up playing. I sort of fell into tennis coaching. Living out of home from a young age taught me to be very self-sufficient, so when I stopped playing, I had bills to pay. The natural short-term progression was to coach. It wasn’t until later on I developed a real clear direction as to what I wanted to do.
Why did you decide to stay in tennis?
As I mentioned, I sort of fell into coaching and staying in the tennis industry. I guess the more relevant question for me now is, why do I stay in tennis? Tennis has given me a lot and created many opportunities which I am very grateful for. Many of the skills I have learned through tennis and the business of sport could be translated into many walks of life. But at the end of the day, I still love the sport and love to see the impact we are able to have on so many people through the Vida community.
What were some of the skills you formed as a player that you have taken beyond the tour?
Life on tour taught me a lot; resilience, independence, planning, routine, discipline, budgeting, and time management to name a few. But I think the main two skills or life lessons I have taken into life beyond the tour is 1) take responsibility – in an individual sport you are ultimately accountable and life is no different, and 2) surround yourself with the right people.
Did you find the adjustment back to non-tour life to be difficult?
This is an interesting question. If you had asked me this in the period of time after I finished, I would have said I found it easy. But with reflection and now have a greater understanding of self-awareness I realise it was a lot more difficult than I thought. I think I was like many players who have, and who will make the transition, questioning my own self-worth and who I was. Who am I if not the tennis player? For me, the real clarity came when I got clear on what I wanted to do with the next phase of my life, which probably wasn’t until a couple of years after I stopped playing.
What kind of support did you have through that process?
Through this process I did have a support network of people who cared but I don’t think they really understood where my mind was at. I came to the realization quickly, that I needed to surround myself with people who I could learn from, not just in tennis, but in all areas of life.
Do you find time to get out on the court these days?
Most of my time in the Vida business is spent behind the scenes planning, processes, and working with our Team. I still spend some time on court coaching but a lot less than in the early days of coaching. My wife and I also have three young kids, so it is nice to have the time to spend with them.
How important is networking during your playing days and is this something you focused on towards the end of your career?
Networking is an interesting concept to me. I feel that every connection you have is an opportunity to create a relationship and for learning. If you continue to try and give more than you get in life, the opportunities through connections will open up, you just have to be ready to take them. People are always happy to help and support others who have shown an interest in helping them, or see the bigger picture.
I was lucky to create a lot of life long friends and connections through playing but it was never something I focused on to help with the transition after tennis. I am probably more aware of this now I have a clear vision for my business and personal life.
If you have to name the single most important reason you have had so much success as a business person what would it be?
Knowledge. Surround yourself with the right people, have mentors, and fail fast. We all make plenty of mistakes over the journey, it is those who learn from them quickly and keep moving forward.
For me it is always about progress over perfection. Tennis players are often perfectionists, and we all need to learn not to sweat the little things. I find as well, the people who are action-orientated tend to get things done, and if you want to be successful in anything in life you need to take action and implement.
As players we all had coaches, but often as we transition into life after the tour, we do not. This time more than ever is the period we all need a coach or mentor. Tennis is our comfort zone, life after tennis is not comfortable for many.
Lastly, what was the biggest highlight of your life on tour that is not result-oriented?
When I look back on life on the tour, my biggest highlights are the little things. The funny stories, the friendships, the life experiences, the challenges, the wins and the losses.