His mother was tennis player and his twin brothers, Courtney and Horace, who are both deceased, played with Viv McGrath (a former leading Australian player) in the Eastern Suburbs. McCarthy took up tennis when he was about eight or nine and won a NSW under-13 championship. "But then the war [World War II] came when I was 16 and it ruined tennis in my developing years to the age of 21," he said.
McCarthy was ranked sixth in Australia in 1946 and had some good wins against top-ranked opponents, as well as taking Wimbledon champion Jaroslav Drobny to five sets.
He reached the quarter finals in men's singles with Adrian Quist at the 1948 Australian Championships.
But McCarthy dropped out of tennis for about 22 years from the mid-1950s. He had played in the Victorian championships and beaten Tom Warhurst: yet Warhurst was selected ahead of him for a trip to South Africa. "I was placed in an Australian team to go to New Zealand," he said. "It was a political selection and that was one of the reasons I got a bit disheartened after that."
McCarthy was nationally ranked at No 5 as a junior during the post-war years but had a break of 15 years from the game in the 1960s and early 1970s before com
ing back to play in the veterans'ranks in 1977. In that year he won both the over-45s and over-50s titles and has been a leading player in the veterans' ranks ever since. McCarthy plays most of the veterans' titles around Australia. As well as being the Austria Cup (regarded as the International Tennis Federation's world titles) champion, McCarhy holds the Australian and ACT 60years-and-over singles titles and plays in Canberra each Easter.
McCarthy, who formerly worked for a hair cosmetics firm, has had his own coaching clinic at Baulkham Hills for the past 12 years.
Of his successes at the veteran tournaments, he said: "Luckily I've been very keen and I suppose I'm pretty fit for my age; I'm on the court every day. "I've learnt the value of good ground strokes. I'm not a big-hitting serve-and-volley man, I rely more on. finesse and placement." McCarthy "runs into" quite a few well-known former international players around the veterans' circuit, including former American Davis Cup players Hugh Stewart and Tom Brown and Sweden's Torsten Johansson.
While spending most of his time coaching seven days a week in Sydney, McCarthy finds time to make periodic trips overseas with Australian veterans' teams to compete in tournaments all around the world. "I have been going overseas
since 1981 and have represented Australia in a lot of countries," McCarthy said. "The Austria Cup has been one of our most successful tournaments, having won it four times, in 1982, '85 and '86 (men's 55-years-and-over teams title). Alan Bailey, Allan Kendall and the Australian great Frank Sedgman were members of that team. McCarthy is unbeaten in Austria Cup singles.In 1988 was the first time that we haven't made the final. In the teams event at the Austria Cup, Sedgman and McCarthy won their doubles 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to clinch the championship after McCarthy had won his singles but Sedgman surprisingly had lost to former Canadian Davis Cup player Lome Main.
McCarthy won the men's 60 years-and-over singles title in 1986. He was rated No 1 in the world in the over-60s division, a title he won in California in August of 1988.
McCathy is pleased to see Canberra's Wally Masur doing well. Having watched Masur play, McCarthy said: "You can see he's learnt his game on hardcourts and with it the value of good groundstrokes."
He also said too many modern players lacked good groundstrokes.
"[They] want to run in and try to belt everything away."
Bob McCarthy's unerring ability to get his opponent out of position with pinpoint accuracy, then have plenty of time to place winners in the open court was testimony to his hold on a match. On the couple of occasions that he was forced on the defensive in the match McCarthy seemed to raise his effort just a little higher and produce a shot that left his opponent standing.
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