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If you know Pete Luczak, you’re better off for it. Pete is a great bloke who is loyal, honest, and will give you the shirt off his back.
Pete came on with Athletic DNA (just like Robert Kendrick did) in the very beginning, during the Aussie Open. When the first shipment of clothes were destroyed (it has not been an easy road but we love the challenge!), replacement product found, and Pete was needed in a photo shoot in 100 degree heat, he was the model of cool. Such an ambassador of the brand from the beginning, even while Pete was getting ready for a Grand Slam first round in his home country, he had his parents running product around for us!
In a world of high maintenance athletes Pete embodied the spirit of Athletic DNA, work ethic and heart! He never expected anything and earned his way in life. Not coming from privilege and having very little training, he did the best he could. After getting beaten up in the juniors, he earned a scholarship to Fresno St where he excelled and improved his tennis daily. A season before he turned pro Pete went undefeated in the regular season but unfortunately lost early in NCAA’s.
I traveled with Pete in the very beginning (and yes, I still remember the 6-1 in the third defeat in Joplin, Missouri Pete) and he was an inspiration then as he is now. Pete was famous for losing one week early, hitting the track and practice court that day and winning the very next week on the futures. He never bitched and moaned and was a role model to many. He clawed his way up the rankings….through the futures…..challengers…..all the way to the top 100. A local hard working kid from Melbourne with a dream, Pete has been an amazing representative of ADNA from the beginning.
Below is a great little Q&A on Pete after his last doubs at the Aussie Open!
Q, Is that your last match?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, that's it. Yeah, that was the last one. Yeah. So it's a nice way to go out, playing with a good mate and also playing best doubles in the world, so yeah.
Q. It's not the kind of match to make you think, I could carry on this?
PETER LUCZAK: No, not really. No, there's too many young guys out there. I can't keep up anymore. When you play in that sort of atmosphere you do want to play again, but it's not like that every week. Not even close.
Q. What's behind the decision to retire? Doing it too long?
PETER LUCZAK: Ah, guys are getting better, my results haven't been quite as good, but also the main factor is I've got two young kids. I just want to spend more time with them and the wife.
Q. You played college tennis in the States, right?
PETER LUCZAK: That's right.
Q. When you started there to now, today, if you had known then what you know now, how would you feel?
PETER LUCZAK: You know, I think I'm pretty proud with what I've achieved. I wasn't a great junior growing up, and, yeah, I'm happy that I was able to represent my country in Davis Cup and play in all Grand Slams, be top 100 player for the small occasion that I was in there.
So, yeah, I feel like with my game I don't feel like I'm the most talented player out there. I felt like I always had to work pretty hard for what I achieved. So, yeah, I'm satisfied. I don't have any regrets or feel like I wish I could have done this or that.
Q. What's been the most enjoyable part? What's been the best memory?
PETER LUCZAK: Being from Melbourne, have to be playing the Australian Open. Also the Davis Cup. I think tennis is such an individual sport, those Davis Cup weeks are great, especially being an Australian. I'm not sure how the other teams get along, but all the Aussie guys get along so well. You know, the dinner at night, we always get there a couple weeks early or 10 days early and hang out together. They are most enjoyable.
Q. You have connections in the southeast to Melbourne from growing up. How did that sort of influence you growing up and how has that helped you?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, I had a just a local coach who mentored me, Tum Rakete. He was out there for my last match today, which was nice. He was with me since I was 12 until I was 18 just at a local club in my area, at Notting Hill‑Pinewood. I was in Mulgrave, so it's only like a 10‑minute drive.
And then, yeah, I went into playing college tennis. But how did that influence me? Yeah, just played every day at a local club I guess.
Q. There would be a lot of young kinds in that area who wouldn't consider themselves very good junior players. How do they make that step? What would you offer to them?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, if you love tennis and you love competing, it's hard work. There are so many good players now you got to be out there every day. If you're not practicing every day, you don't have much chance. But there are so many opportunities. Like I loved playing college tennis. That was great, and I improved a lot in those four years. So, you know, if you don't make it professional straightaway, there are other pathways or other options for you.
Q. You had a nice moment where Lleyton sort of went straight to you as soon as that ball hit the tape there. What's it like to share that moment?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, no, that's the sort of guy he is. Like he's got a big singles match coming up, and then yesterday. This morning I called him I said, Mate, we're not playing. You have to get ready for your singles. I'm happy to play that one match at the Australian Open. The first match we played was a great crowd, and he's really loyal to his friends and he knew it would mean a lot to me. He said, Mate, we're playing. I need to hit anyway. So we went out there and we had a good time. I think, you know, he's a really nice guy.
Q. How did it come together that you two played this year at this event? Did you call him or he called you?
PETER LUCZAK: No, I would never ask him. Yeah, he knew it was my last one, so he wanted to do me a favor. He doesn't normally play in Grand Slams. He actually did the same at Wimbledon. We played the week before in Halle and made the semifinal. And he said, Oh, let's play Wimbledon together. I couldn't believe it. I said, You sure? We played and lost first round there. Then, again, normally takes the Australian Open pretty seriously. You know he wants to do well here so he wants to just focus on the singles. But, you know, he did me a big favor in playing with me, and it was a great moment to play with him.
Q. How have you kept that mateship over this time? People fall out over all sorts of things and people are very different.
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah. Um, I think the Australians tend to stick together. Like I remember the first few times when I was playing like Roland Garros or Wimby qualifying, Lleyton was probably 1 in the world at that time. I don't know what I was ranked, probably 200, 250, whatever I was. I saw him in the back of the court and I said, Is that Lleyton? What's he doing watching me? I was like very nervous playing. Then afterwards he said, Good match or whatever. He probably invited me to dinner, and ever since then we became good friends. Whenever we're at the same tournament we always going to dinner together, practicing together. I think he likes to do things with Australians since we don't see much of each other overseas.
Q. Ruling out Lleyton, who's the most impressive person you've seen in tennis over all these years?
PETER LUCZAK: That's a tough question. It's hard to get past Rafa and Roger. I think one of the years I was playing my best tennis I had to play both of them in the same year in the first round one. One time it was against Nadal at the Australian Open, and next slam I had to play against Roger. Just not only the tennis, but the way they carry themselves off the court. I have been lucky enough to be part of the player council. There's 10 of us in there, and they're obviously both in the player council, so I get to talk with them and deal with them quite a bit. The way they respect tennis and they want the best for all the players I think it's an amazing thing. So we're pretty lucky in our sport to have those two guys at the head.
Q. It's quite unusual to not have guys who not only get on well, but get on well with a lot of other players as well.
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, and they're so passionate about it, as well. Like at some of those meetings you can really tell they love the game and want to do the best for it and the best for all the players and not caring about their own interests. They want to do the best for all the sport in general.
Q. What's it like in those meetings? Must be quite interesting.
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, the first two of three I was pretty quiet. I didn't say too much. I couldn't believe I was sitting next to the guys. You get used to it just like you get used to being mates with Lleyton. Yeah, I just voice my opinion, whatever I think is right. But I tend to generally agree with those guys, because I know their heart is in this and they're trying do their best.
Q. And they'll take your views on...
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, they do. Yeah, they do, especially on like maybe subjects which maybe involve ‑‑ or are more important to the guys who are ranked 50 and 100 or whatever. If we're discussing about if there should be points in the last round of quallies or the challengers, you know, I'll say, What do you guys think and stuff like that.
Q. Would there be a pinch‑me‑moment in your career the first you played some big tournament or played a good match against some guy where you think, Is this really me? I'm really a professional player?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah. Um, my first ‑‑ my first ‑‑ I played a quallies of an ATP during college summer break, and we went to Newport, Rhode Island. That was the first taste I had, I guess, of the professional circuit. I couldn't believe they pick you from the airport in a car, and at the courts I had free food for lunch.
Like it gives you a lot of motivation. Man, this is the life, this is great. So I think that was one of the things. I was just in the qualifying, but the way they treat you at ATP tournaments. I think a lot of guys, if they're doing it week in and week out, they sort of take it a little bit for granted. But we are pretty spoiled.
Q. Is there anything that you wish you had accomplished that you didn't manage to do?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, the only thing ‑‑ to reach the ATP pension you need five years. Unfortunately I just made four, so I won't be making any money when I'm 50. I've got to try to find something else to do. But, yeah, I gave it a crack this year, but I didn't make it. In 2011 I didn't quite get there, so that's unfortunate, but...
Q. Have to try to change the rules on the player council.
PETER LUCZAK: I'll have to suggest that. I'm on there till September. I think if you serve on the player council they should give you one year on the pension, yeah. I have done two terms now, so I should definitely get at least two years on that.
Q. What is next? You said you're done. What are your thoughts?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, I'm lucky enough to ‑‑ I'm still talking to Todd Woodbridge and Craig Tiley, and I'll be doing some weeks for Tennis Australia next year ‑‑ or this year. As long as Lleyton's healthy, I plan on doing the program, about 15 weeks with him. His coach obviously is still Tony Roche, and he'll be doing the slams and some of the bigger events, like Indian Wells, Miami, and the grass court swing. I will be doing the rest of the tournaments, planning on ‑‑ starting off with San Jose, Memphis, Delray Beach straight after the Davis Cup tie we have in Geelong.
Q. As a coach?
PETER LUCZAK: Yeah, as a coach. I mean, he knows the game a lot better than I do, so whatever I can do. I will be hitting with him, booking his practice courts, just supporting him. It's always nice to have someone in the stands, you know, pumping you up and whatnot.