Swiss Tennis Player Dedicated his Victory to a South Australian Coach
Reporter: Partick Emmett
IAN HENSCHKE: Last Sunday, when Swiss tennis player Roger Federer won Wimbledon, he dedicated his victory to a little-known South Australian coach.
Hardly anyone knows the name Peter Carter here, but in Switzerland he was a household name and captain of their Davis Cup team.
But all that was tragically cut short when he died in a car accident last year.
Patrick Emmett has more.
ROGER FEDERER: And I was always joking around when I was a boy — “I’m going to win this”, and now I have it. Thanks to everybody. Oh, it’s great.
PATRICK EMMETT: When Roger Federer broke down in tears after last Sunday’s Wimbledon final, much of that emotion was for Peter Carter.
And those tears were shared thousands of kilometres away in Nuriootpa by Peter’s parents, Bob and Diana.
BOB CARTER: We cried.
DIANA CARTER: We did cry because we saw Roger and we realised why he was so upset, because it had been in the paper that he was dedicating this result to Peter and so —
BOB CARTER: His first Grand Slam to Peter.
DIANA CARTER: ..so we did realise what it was all about.
BOB CARTER: And when he broke up, so did we.
PATRICK EMMETT: Peter Carter grew up in the Barossa in the ’60’s as part of a tennis loving family.
He’d trail along to the courts with his parents and two older brothers, but they thought he was too small to play competitively, until one day when he was eight.
BOB CARTER: He always used to take his racquet out and there was an older boy out there that was actually playing in the team tennis.
He went off with him and came back and said “I beat this lad”, so then I thought, well I better start looking into him and have a few hits with him, and he was just so good, even at that age.
PATRICK EMMETT: And he was soon playing even better.
When he was 12, he was playing A grade, then at 15 he moved to Adelaide to live with coach Peter Smith, the man who played a part in many famous careers, including John Fitzgerald, Darren Cahill, Brod Dyke and Lleyton Hewitt.
PETER SMITH, COACH: He was a little younger than Fitzy and Brod Dyke but in terms of Mark and Darren who were about the same age, I think people considered him to be the best of that particular group.
PATRICK EMMETT: One of Peter’s most memorable wins was when he defeated John Alexander while he was still at school.
He then went on the circuit, but dogged by injury, he eventually ended up coaching in Switzerland, where he met the young Roger Federer.
BOB CARTER: He said to me one night when he rang “Oh, have I got a young boy here who looks promising, “he’s only about 12 or 13”.
He said, “I think he’s going to go places.”
And that was Roger Federer.
PETER SMITH: As coaches would say that, you know, I spoke to them about this young kid that I was coaching I thought was going to be pretty good and he spoke to me about a young kid he was coaching that he thought was going to be pretty good, and of course it’s turned out that Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer turned out to be not just fairly good, they turned out to be superstars.
PATRICK EMMETT: Peter coached Roger through his formative teenage years.
The Swiss champion credits him with much of his success.
Those feelings were shared by other Swiss players and eventually Peter became the country’s Davis Cup coach and captain.
BOB CARTER: They did really respect him a lot.
DIANA CARTER: And the team actually refused to play unless he was the captain, at one stage.
PATRICK EMMETT: Peter’s life seemed complete when he met his wife Sylvia, but shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with cancer.
After a 12-month battle last year she was cleared of the disease, but worse was to come.
The pair travelled to South Africa to celebrate, but while travelling in separate cars Peter was killed in an accident.
BOB CARTER: Yeah, it’s something that you never forget getting that phone call at 2:45am one morning.
PATRICK EMMETT: The after effects of that tragic death still linger for Peter’s family and friends in Adelaide but the success of Roger Federer has helped to ease the pain.
BOB CARTER: I feel really good about that.
It’s a wonderful feeling really, because Peter had such an influence on his career, and really to watch Roger play you can sort of see a little bit of Peter there.
PETER SMITH: He had the same calmness and smoothness that Roger’s got and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.
He was held in the highest esteem by everyone that knew him — more than anyone I’ve ever met or ever known.
There’s not just one person on the planet that I’ve ever heard had a bad word to say about Peter, and so it’s rocked tennis in Switzerland, there’s no question about that, and it’s rocked the foundations of tennis in Australia with those people that did know him.
BOB CARTER: People who knew him, respected him and we’re so proud of that.
He just cared about people and for that reason they cared about him and he was just so wonderful.
IAN HENSCHKE: And Peter Carter is now remembered as part of the Carter Altman Penfold Fund.
The charity known as CAP helps children with disabilities play sport and remembers two other tennis players, Nick Altman and Jeff Penfold.
“This DVD is dedicated to two young men with whom I’ve enjoyed an enduring friendship. To Lleyton Hewitt, the best pupil and the best player that I have had the good fortune to be involved with, To Peter Carter, who was like a son to us and whose achievements in coaching, with Roger Federer, the Swiss Tennis Federation and the Swiss Davis Cup Team, I’m in awe of.”