Aussies inspired by great Hoad in Malaga

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 Aussies inspired by great Hoad in Malaga
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Lleyton Hewitt's Davis Cup contenders are taking inspiration from the memory of Lew Hoad as they bid to regain the world team title the late, great champion once helped Australia to dominate.

And Jenny Staley Hoad, widow of the charismatic star and once an Australian Open finalist herself, will be in the Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena in Malaga on Friday to cheer on Hewitt's crew in the semi-final against Croatia.

Hoad and Staley moved to the Costa del Sol after his glittering career was over, setting up a tennis resort and academy in Fuengirola, just 25km south of Malaga, which they ran for 30 years before his death in 1994 at just 59 following a battle with leukaemia.

To inspire the current squad, Hewitt and his assistant Tony Roche, Hoad's old friend, organised a trip last week for the team to visit the famed 'Campo de Tenis', which in its 1970s glitzy heyday attracted Lew's showbiz pals like Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra and Kirk Douglas.

"Lew was one of the Davis Cup greats, so it was nice for the boys to get the chance to see the academy. They really enjoyed it, and met Jenny, who's coming to watch them on Friday," team manager Kathryn Oyeniyi told AAP.

After Hoad's death, Jenny sold the club in 1999 but she's continued living at the neighbouring complex and is still in great form at 88.

For Spanish-based Alex de Minaur, the team's No.1 who's so steeped in the Davis Cup that he had the number 109 tattooed on his chest over his heart after becoming the 109th Australian player to earn the honour, seeing Jenny at Hoad's old Spanish kingdom felt special.   

"He was one of the greats for Australian tennis, a Davis Cup champion and to be able to see his legacy, it was just a great experience to have with the whole team," said de Minaur.

Hoad was a double Wimbledon champion as well as victor at the Australian Open and French Open too in a glorious career during which his natural talent and daring approach had some opponents suggesting he might just have been the best of them all.

And he was particularly proud of Australia's Davis Cup record in the mid-50s when he and Ken Rosewall were the dazzling duo in a team that won four times in five years.

Those were the days when Australia dominated the competition, winning it 15 times in 18 editions between 1950 and 1967, with de Minaur now describing the idea of winning it this weekend for just the first time in 19 years as "the ultimate dream".


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