Fitzgerald goes from Cockaleechie to Hall of Fame

The 'Cockaleechie Kid' John Fitzgerald has become the 42nd inductee into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame, a path which started with junior tennis on Eyre Peninsula.

Fitzgerald was inducted into the Hall of Fame on January 26 at the Australian Open, prior to the fourth round match between Ash Barty and Alison Riske.

A bronze bust of Fitzgerald was also unveiled, which will be on display alongside the busts of fellow inductees in Garden Square at Melbourne Park.

He joins inductees including Rod Laver, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.

Fitzgerald said he was joined by his wife Jenny and their three children, as well as siblings from South Australia and friends from the United States, which made the occasion more special.

He said it was an honour to be the latest inductee into the hall of fame and joining such illustrious company.

"We're a small fraternity compared to the global tennis fraternity but there's a lot of friends and heroes in that hall of fame so it's a great club to be a part of," he said.

"I think you go on a journey, no one can foresee where it's going to end up...you do your best and make the most of your opportunities."

Fitzgerald's achievements included a world number one doubles ranking with Sweden's Anders Jarryd and winning 30 doubles titles.

These include seven grand slam titles, including the Australian Open with John Alexander in 1983 and the US Open in 1984 and French Open in 1986 with Czech player Tomas Smid.

His greatest success was with Jarryd, winning the Wimbledon doubles in 1989 as well as the French Open, US Open and Wimbledon doubles again in 1991.

He was Davis Cup captain for Australia from 2001 to 2010, which included a Davis Cup win in 2003.

Fitzgerald said his journey started playing tennis at Cockaleechie, playing on the courts on the farm.

He said from those beginnings we went to Adelaide and then took off overseas.

"It was my life, I left home and chased a career as a tennis professional and it all turned out (great)," he said.

"If you give it your best shot then there's no regrets."

As for those looking to start a professional career of their own, Fitzgerald said the most important thing was that they loved what they did.

"Whatever endeavour you have in life, as long as you love doing it you can achieve anything," he said.

This story Honour for 'Cockaleechie Kid' first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.