Schofield serves up 24th victory
Friday, 15th November, 2013
By Ethan James
If you’re reading this article, you can be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu.
For a remarkable 24th year in succession, Robert Schofield has claimed the open singles tennis championships in Broken Hill.
He toppled Nathan Crabb 7-2 in the final on Tuesday night, meaning he has claimed the trophy every year since moving to the town in 1988.
When asked if he ever got annoyed about speaking to the media in mid-November, Schofield had the perfect return.
“Well if you weren’t talking to me, it means I wouldn’t have won,” he joked.
Schofield held a narrow 3-2 lead in the final but a change of ends in blustery conditions proved the turning point.
“It was a bit closer than the end score suggested. It was really tight early on,” he recalled.
“The wind was pretty strong and Nathan was about to serve with the wind and he’d won his first serve from that end pretty easily.
“That particular game then went for about five or six deuces and if he’d have won that game... the score would have been much, much closer.”
He then broke Crabb’s serve and subsequently held his own, taking two games in succession for a 5-2 lead.
And from there he didn’t look back.
“I then went around with the wind and I think he (Crabb) might have been a bit deflated,” Schofield said.
The 47-year-old takes a simple approach to his game and rates his determination and ability to read the game as his biggest asset.
“My philosophy in any sort of tournament is just to do my absolute best to get every ball back,” he said.
“There are a number of players that want to hit big winners... but normally the person who hits fewer unforced errors usually wins the game.”
No opposition player has found a big enough chink his armour for nearly a quarter of a century, with the mental on-court battle becoming arguably Schofield’s toughest nemesis.
“I was surprised at how nervous I was... ten years ago I didn’t get that. But I like that feeling and I don’t think you can play your best if you don’t have a few nerves beforehand.”
“I don’t have the recovery I once did, there were a couple of points I played against Nathan... and what I really needed to do was go and have a lay down.”
The high school teacher first played competitive tennis as an 11 year old.
In his late teens and early twenties, he competed in open tournaments across the Eastern Seaboard from Newcastle to Tweed Heads and far inland as Moree.
He has experienced the evolution of the game first hand.
“I was probably one of the last to grow up with a wooden racquet,” he said.
“There’s much more top spin, the serves are much harder, serve and volley has gone out of the game.”
Aside from his singles success, Schofield teamed up with Peter Clark to take out the doubles title over Crabb and Corey Pascoe.
“Neither of the two was born when I won my first one... so, I’ve definitely played for a long time.”
“I’ll keep playing until I can’t walk. That’s the thing about tennis, it’s really a lifetime sport.”