Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Tennis Canada is saddened by the news of the death of former coach Bob Brett who passed away earlier this week at the age of 67 due to cancer. 

The Australian enjoyed an illustrious, 46-year career in tennis, coaching the likes of Grand Slam champions Johan Kriek, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and Marin Cilic. In November 2020, he was honoured as the second recipient of the Tim Gullikson Career Coach Award for exemplifying excellence, leadership, respect, and a true love for the sport of tennis and the art of coaching after being unanimously voted by his colleagues.

During the mid-2000s, when Tennis Canada embarked on an overhaul of its high-performance program, Brett joined the organization as a high-performance consultant and set up the National Junior Programs in Toronto and Vancouver. Brett, who was highly sought after and considered quite a coup for the federation at the time, also played a vital role in its early adoption and implementation of sport science. His dedication and passion for the sport was infectious and his desire to help develop the next generation of Canadian tennis stars was plain to see. In the early years of the revitalization, he worked closely with Louis Borfiga, Vice-President for High Performance. The two proven leaders joined Tennis Canada at the same time and paved the way for the success Canada continues to enjoy on the global scene.

“Bob Brett was a real student of our game,” said Louis Borfiga, Vice-President of High Performance for Tennis Canada. “He was an incredible coach who coached Marin Cilic at the highest level of the pro tour while at the same time helping to develop some of Canada’s best under-12s, with the same passion and commitment. Bob also had an incredible work ethic and demanded the same of his players. For example, in the early days, he came to Canada for two-week stints and that meant he worked on-court for 14 consecutive days. If a junior player was late for a training session, he demanded 50 push-ups, which he did alongside the player.” 

“The world of tennis lost an icon with the sad passing of Bob Brett,” said Michael Downey, President and CEO of Tennis Canada. “Bob’s coaching expertise and real-life experience taking players like Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and Marin Cilic to the top of the game was a key ingredient in the building of our high-performance program. He knew what it took to win at the highest level and he passed that knowledge on to many Canadian coaches both in and outside our program. Bob made an indelible mark on Canadian tennis. His contribution will never be forgotten and his legacy set forever.”

“Bob Brett was a coaching connoisseur,” added Roger Martin, former Chair of the Board for Tennis Canada. “He took note of every nuance of strategy, technique and psyche and worked creatively with them to make young players better. I will always miss and never forget our 6:00 a.m. sessions at the Granite where we would hit balls, in between discussing tennis, learning and life. Along with the rest of the tennis world, I will miss this legendary and kind man.”

During his time at and after Tennis Canada, Brett also made an impact on star Milos Raonic.

“No one loved tennis more than Bob Brett,” commented Raonic. “Whenever I got the opportunity to spend time with him, he was always the first on the court and the last to leave. This inspired so many of his students and I think that’s why he was able to get so much out of them. He always got the best from them with a positive and passionate attitude. Tennis has lost one of its biggest and most passionate supporters.”