Farrer has been known as "Buster" since early childhood. His parents excelled at sport: his father captained the Border cricket team, and his mother won the South African under-18 singles tennis championship.
He attended Dale College, near the family home in King William's Town, excelling in sport and captaining the school cricket team in his final year, 1954. He made his first-class cricket debut for Border in the Currie Cup in the 1954?55 season a few days after his 18th birthday. Playing against North-Eastern Transvaal, he scored 77 in his only innings. He began studying at Rhodes University in Grahamstown for a BA in Physical Education in 1955.
After seven more matches for Border in 1954?55 and 1955?56 without reaching 50, he decided to concentrate on his tennis career.
Farrer represented South African Universities at tennis. In 1956 he was offered a trip to England with a group of young South African tennis players. He accepted, and abandoned his university studies.
After several minor tournaments in England, he played in the singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles at the 1956 Wimbledon Championships. In the singles he beat Dick Potter (Australia) in the first round, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4, but lost to Staffan Stockenberg (Sweden) in the second round, 6-4, 6-2, 12-10. He and Ivor Phillips of South Africa won the first round of the men's doubles against the Egyptian pair Mohamed Badr-el-din and Kamel Moubarek, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4, but lost in the second round to Stockenberg and Ulf Schmidt (Sweden), 6-2, 6-2, 11-9. In the mixed doubles he partnered Estelle van Tonder of South Africa to the third round, where they lost to the British pair Gerry Oakley and Pat Hird, 8-6, 6-2. Phillips and van Tonder were members of Farrer's touring group.
It was his only Wimbledon, simply because he couldn't afford regular long trips away playing amateur tennis. On his return he took a job in a sporting goods store in Johannesburg run by the former Yugoslavian tennis player Franjo Kukuljevi?. He improved his tennis in the Johannesburg club competition but was unable to reach the South African Davis Cup team. After he returned to King William's Town to help his father with his growing sporting goods store, he gave up regular tennis because the local standard was so low, and concentrated on cricket.
Although he was right-handed at batting and bowling at cricket, he played tennis and squash left-handed.
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