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Sun Shines On Drewett's Memorial Service

Brad Drewett© Red PhotographicBrad Drewett was fondly remembered by friends, family and the tennis community.

Australian tennis reporter Craig Gabriel, who grew up in the same suburb as Brad Drewett, pays tribute to his lifelong friend in this reflection of his memorial service.

It was a warm, sunny day in Sydney - a picture perfect day as the Pittwater Uniting Church, nestled among tall eucalyptus trees, filled with guests who had come to pay their last respects to Brad Drewett, a man who had touched so many with his love and passion for this great game of ours.

Brad was too young to be taken and the work he had set out to do was far from complete, but during his 54 years of life he crammed in a whole lot. 

His funeral was a celebration of his life, highlighted by the love and respect he commanded that the church and the wake that followed at Terrey Hills Golf Club, so close to the beautiful home he shared with Jo his wife, and children Jack, Ally, Tom and Joe, overflowed with more than 500 guests.

Tennis greats like Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe and Tony Roche were there. Brad’s contemporaries like Wally Masur, John Fitzgerald, Mark Edmondson and John Alexander shed a tear. Friends and colleagues had flown in from around Australia and across the seas from New Zealand, the USA, Shanghai, Beijing, Dubai, Monte Carlo and the UK. 

Charles Humphrey Smith, David Egdes and Justin Gimelstob were there from the ATP Board, along with ATP executives Mark Young, Laurent Delanney, Alison Lee and Flip Galloway. The WTA was represented by CEO Stacey Allaster, the All England Club was represented by Philip Brook, Bill Babcock was there for the Grand Slam committee, Geoff Pollard represented the ITF and Tennis Australia was led by CEO Steve Wood, President Steve Healy and Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley.

It was a beautiful service obviously filled with sadness, but while tears flowed there were also moments when smiles were brought to tear-stained cheeks as stories of messy rooms and towels strewn around the floor were regalled of Brad growing up as told by his sisters Jan, Steph and Wendy.

Hearts went out to Jo as she spoke of Brad passing away peacefully in a perfect setting, at their home surrounded by the trees he loved so much outside their windows. Jack, his eldest son, spoke so bravely, while Wally Masur lightened the mood when he said, “I asked Brad to be my best-man … twice.” But then it was even too much for normally stoic Wally as he choked back the emotions. 

His best friend from school, Phil Gardner, told us of their times together at Killarney Heights High when they decided about getting to a concert by the Rolling Stones and their times during tournaments in places like Bangkok or Munich and London. Trips away skiing; concerts with INXS, Moving Pictures and Cold Chisel; and how he met his lovely wife Jo, who was a flight attendant.

Australia’s most pre-eminent broadcaster and one of the Drewett family’s closest friends, Alan Jones, spoke eloquently of their times together and read tributes from the tennis family.

Music and a glass of red wine with friends was what filled Brad with joy, and with each glass of red wine, the volume dial was turned up with his tastes now firmly implanted in country music.

Video tributes from Novak and Roger and Rafa and Andy and Board member Giorgio di Palermo were mingled with images of Brad in his playing days, with his growing family, through to his times in business and on to his roles at the ATP World Tour, where he made his greatest professional mark as the Executive Chairman and President. 

Brad Drewett worked tirelessly to leave tennis in a better place than when he came into the role. He can rest in peace knowing that he did. 

The sport is grateful for knowing him, the players can know he cared beyond belief and his family knows how much he loved them.

We will all miss that hearty laugh, the vigorous discussions, the sharp analytical mind and that wicked, teasing smile.

Rest in peace our friend.

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