These whingeing Aussie flag-wavers are all Greek to me

DOWN here in the land of plenty, there is a new look to the Australian tennis scene. Take a look at the names and you will see what I mean: Nick Kyrgios, Bernie Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Daria Gavrilova and, before she got married a couple of weeks ago, Jamila Gajdosova.

Nobody needs to tell me we are a country with many ethnic groups and that’s just fine by me because I think the future is exciting. Gone is the old Irish influence, with players such as Fitzgerald, McNamara, McNamee, Rafter and, of course, Cash now playing veterans events.

I have, however, got a little tired with some of my dyedin-the-wool countrymen who have been more than a little grumpy this week about Johanna Konta enjoying success with GB behind her name rather than AUS.

Of course I know Konta was born in Sydney and I’m well aware of the fact that she is a product of the Tennis Australia junior schemes. But in every group of youngsters there is invariably one who slips through the net and it looks like this one slipped all the way to Britain.

I have quite firm views on sportsmen and women changing nationality. I make no secret of the fact I’ve called London home for the past 30 years but I have never even vaguely considered switching the passport I use on my travels. One of my proudest experiences was winning the Davis Cup for Australia a couple of times.

The fact I have stayed true to the green and gold has not always worked in my favour. I don’t think I have too many friends in the corridors of Tennis Australia and the Aussie Davis Cup captaincy has been up for grabs a few times without my name being mentioned. But I am not one to bear a grudge and this week I got my reward of sorts; Australia Post issued a new set of stamps depicting the nation’s tennis legends and there’s me, chequered headband and all, on the $1 variety. That would never have happened if I had defected and become a Brit.

Twenty years ago, when Greg Rusedski left Canada and took his tennis allegiance across the Atlantic, I must admit to viewing the whole affair a little cynically. At least he never played for the country of his birth in the Davis Cup or the Olympics. Aljaz Bedene, who is still appealing against his attempted switch to Britain being blocked by the International Tennis Federation, is different. He has played for Slovenia, albeit in dead rubbers, and that should be the end of the story. He made his decision when he walked on court.

Konta was only 14 when she moved to England with her parents. Whether it was a family decision for a better life or simply to help Johanna with her tennis, only they will know. It does not matter now.

I have felt sorry for Konta having to face the same questions in every press conference. Why did you leave Australia? Have you still got any family here? Do they treat you better over there? Why don’t you come back? Come on, look at our Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams. Yes, Russia can probably scratch together a women’s team without Gavrilova and the Rodionova sisters. But what would these Aussies say if Greece, down in depths of the Europe Zone Group three with Andorra, Iceland and Ireland, started claiming Kyrgios and Kokkinakis for their team? So good on Konta for getting through the first week of the Australian Open and here’s hoping she goes further. She should enjoy returning to the country of her birth and getting a bit of success. If anyone complains again, just point out to them that the only true Aussie tennis player there has ever been is Evonne Goolagong.