by Kieran Carroll
John Newcombe photo used with permission

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by Kieran Carroll

NEWK! (The John Newcombe Story) traces the playing and post-playing career of Australian tennis champion, John Newcombe. Newcombe’s journey travels from naïve 1960s schoolboy to the No. 1 player in the world in the 1970s, to his time as Davis Cup Captain, to the stroke he suffered in 2003.

Both drama and comedy, the play examines Newcombe’s family life, his marriage from the age of 21, his lifelong friendships and his commercial business interests. The play also delves into the complex politics of world tennis throughout the 1960s and 70s as the game turned from amateur to professional status.

Against an initial backdrop of comfortable middle-class Sydney suburbia, the play portrays a highly determined and ambitious man burning through a quickly changing and often American world. Aware he’s putting his family second emotionally while conscious of providing for them financially, the play exposes the exhausting schedules that even players of yesteryear endured. A further theme is the worries they had for their futures before big money entered the game. The play is also filled with light-hearted moments from some of Newcombe’s numerous commercials and business enterprises.

NEWK! (The John Newcombe Story) is a play about wanting life to be a huge ride, where rest is secondary and finally how that zest and appetite for life never disappears but has to be reigned in.