The Trinitarian who faced world number one on centre court

The Trinitarian who faced world number one on centre court

He’s the only man to face Novak Djokovic on centre court at Rod Laver Arena in the past year, and he has been named young male player of the year by Tennis NSW.

So how did old Trinitarian James McCabe come to be on the opposite side of the net to the world number one?

It all started nine years ago when James, then a primary schooler, was given the honour of tossing the coin at Djokovic’s Australian Open semi-final.

They stayed in touch over the years as James started emerging as a fine tennis player himself.

When Djokovic arrived in Australia for last month’s Open, shrouded in controversy over his anti-vaccination stance, he managed to get two training sessions on centre court in Melbourne before he was sensationally deported by Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

The sessions were cloaked in secrecy but Trinity News can reveal his training partner both times was James McCabe.

He also played in the Open itself, along with doubles partner Alex Bolt, but had the misfortune to draw the eventual champions, the so-called Special Ks, in round one.

They went down 6-4 6-2 to Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis but not before James had unleashed a few of his thunderbolt serves, acing Kyrgios twice in a row.

The 19-year-old Trinitarian (class of 2020), who became a regular in CAS and CIS rep teams, was named number one in the merit Australian schoolboy team in his final year.

Trinity’s Director of Tennis Coaching, Jeremy, Dykgraaff, praised his team ethic.

“James must be commended for his commitment to the School team,” he said.

“Some players who are at a high level in sport tend to duck and weave but James always played for the School, even in his final year.

“He was committed to the team 100 per cent, and you can’t ask for more than that.”

The Philippines-born player rose to a world junior ranking of 71 in October.

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