BTT: Are you still involved in tennis, if so what is your role?
PJ: Yes I have been pretty much involved in tennis my whole life.
I have my own consultancy business – Peter Johnston Sports Pty Ltd and the main focus
is to conduct of tournaments and rights holdings. I am managing director of the ATP 250 St Petersburg Open in Russia; exec tournament director of ATP 250 Zhuhai championships in China and also tournament director of Kooyong classic
BTT: As a player what did you love about your job aside from hitting a ball?
PJ: For me, it opened up my eyes to the wide world. I had never left Australia until I was 17 and from there I have been travelling a lot ever since. Not that it’s been all fun, but I wouldn’t trade the overall experience and opportunity for anything.
BTT: Can you share one of your favourite stories from tour life?
PJ: Well I was a journey man and most of my stories tend to involve things that went wrong!
The main 2 guys I spent a lot of time travelling with were John McCurdy; Brod Dyke;
Eddie Myers ; Warren Maher and a bunch of Aussies around those years so that
group in itself would guarantee that there were a lot of memorable times.
BTT: How hard was it for you to make the decision to retire from playing?
PJ: I was plodding along until I was 25 and then I got the opportunity to become tennis
administrator with Tennis Victoria and the assistant state coach (John McCurdy had
been appointed as state coach) It was a case of playing in London on June 28th and beginning work on July 1st. It became an easy decision because the next challenge was already set. It was probably easier than stopping and not knowing what to do. I thought I would end up coaching in Europe so I got lucky with the Tennis Vic job and that got me the start and helped me learn admin on the job.
BTT: Who supported you through the retirement process?
PJ: Well I had plenty of support because I had a full time job from the day I stopped
playing. I do forever thank Doc John Fraser who was President of Tennis Victoria and Tony
Duggan who was CEO. They took a gamble on me with no experience and backed me all the way.
Then I was also working with John McCurdy and our jobs entailed getting a lot of past players involved in the programs we were setting up so the tennis network was really supportive.
BTT: Describe your first few years beyond the tour?
PJ: From day 1 it was full on with the Tennis Victoria job and it was actually quite long hours with the day job, the coaching of state squads after work and then lot of committee meetings in evening. Then I was playing all the local tournaments and pennant etc. I also took a few national teams overseas for the first 4 years I worked and this kept me able to travel a bit which I missed. It was also a case of learning new skills. For example I was getting men’s and women’s satellite events started in Victoria so I had to sell sponsorship to get them going. Also if you wanted to introduce new programs you had to be able to navigate through the business process- get the idea approved and then secure budget and then implement. So I was learning a lot in those first couple of years
BTT: Are you still connected to many of your tour mates?
PJ: Absolutely I have many who have remained friends to this day. The good thing about tennis is you cannot see someone for 10-20 years and when you do, you pick up like it was 5 minutes since you saw them last. Also working for Tennis Victoria and Tennis Australia and WTA, you naturally kept in contact with many. It is the same with my own business today.
BTT: What is your advice for a recently retired player when it comes to life after tennis?
- Package yourself up and sell yourself.
- Maintain a positive aura even if you have to fake it.
- Don’t take anything for granted.
- You have to rely on yourself and any help is a bonus.
- Everyone is a contact.
- Be prepared to do some hard yards to get where you want to go
- Be persistent but not a pain in the butt! (taken me a while to learn that one!)
- Be adaptable especially in these times.
- Say “yes” and then work out how to do it!
- Adapt to other people’s timing if you wait for a time which suits you, you will be waiting forever
- A proven way to land jobs or get an intro to a place you want to do business with is
to propose an idea which you believe can help them (rather than just propose
yourself) They may well love your idea and then you can ride in that way. Then you are
already doing business with them and they are getting to know you.
Fantastic advice Johnno, congratulations on all of your success!