Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Groth's Back on Track; Sam Groth Is the First to Admit He Isn't the Most Talented Player on Tour, but He Makes Up for That with Hard Work, Last Year Climbing to a Career-High Ranking of 53 despite a Nagging Foot Injury. Remarkably, That Success Came Just Four Years after He Gave the Game Away to Play Aussie Rules. the 28-Year-Old Told APN's Gordon Clark He Was Ready to Take His Game to Another Level

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Groth's Back on Track; Sam Groth Is the First to Admit He Isn't the Most Talented Player on Tour, but He Makes Up for That with Hard Work, Last Year Climbing to a Career-High Ranking of 53 despite a Nagging Foot Injury. Remarkably, That Success Came Just Four Years after He Gave the Game Away to Play Aussie Rules. the 28-Year-Old Told APN's Gordon Clark He Was Ready to Take His Game to Another Level

Article excerpt

IF YOU had told Sam Groth at the start of 2015 he would play for Australia in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup, reach the third round of a grand slam, get to No.53 in the world and win the Newcombe Medal, he would have taken it in a heartbeat.

After all, just four years earlier he had given tennis away to play Aussie rules for the Vermont Eagles in suburban Melbourne, after shoulder surgery and a failed marriage saw his motivation for tennis evaporate.

Growing up as a kid in regional New South Wales, Groth showed great promise at football and tennis.

He had been a promising junior ruckman in the Ovens and Murray representative squads - a feeder region for the Murray Bushrangers in the TAC Cup - and also reached the final of the 16-and-under national grass court championships in 2004.

That led to an invitation to join the Tennis Australia development programs, kicking off a seven-year career that saw him reach an ATP Tour ranking of 265 in 2008, and a spot in the 2009 Australian Open - his first grand slam tournament.

He was beaten in the first round by American Mardy Fish, just weeks before marrying Czech-born professional player Jarmila Gajdosova.

That same year he won his first professional title - an ITF Futures event in Alabama - and followed up with back-to-back wins in Futures events in Turkey and Bendigo in 2010.

But by 2011, his tennis ranking (in the 500s) and his marriage were in trouble, prompting his decision to walk away from both. He actually applied for a job in the fire brigade.

Suddenly his life couldn't have been any more different from when he had been based in Istanbul, married and living his dream as a professional tennis player.

And he loved the change.

He said at the time, "Six months ago I was married. I was travelling the world playing tennis. Now I'm 23, I'm single, I'm playing footy, I'm going out on weekends. I'm living more of a 23-year-old's lifestyle - and I'm enjoying it. It's a big change, but I'm embracing what's happened and getting my life on track, really."

Because he switched to footy mid-season, he only played a handful of games, but he showed enough in the reserves to suggest he could play seniors the following season, and perhaps even graduate to the VFL.

While he had needed to make some changes in his life, he never said he had retired from tennis, and the gnawing feeling that he still had plenty to achieve was always in the back of his mind. So later that year he made the decision to switch back.

With a ranking of 575, it was difficult to get a start in any tournament, but he was determined to make the most of his second chance.

In 2012 he was fitter and stronger than ever, hitting the headlines in a Challenger event in South Korea when he sent down a serve at 263kmh - the fastest ever recorded. …

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