Don Candy, the renowned coach and much-loved character, died at the age of 91 on 14 June in his hometown of Adelaide in Australia.
Don had tremendous tennis IQ. He could see my natural hand eye ability and size, therefore, he shaped my game to become a net rusher to apply the most pressure to each opponent. He coached by the winning percentages, which today would be data... Without Don moving to my hometown of Baltimore to coach, I never would have become the player I became. Pam Shriver
The former player was most linked to his protégé Pam Shriver, who, among her Hall of Fame credentials achieved a World No 3 singles ranking, won 22 Grand Slam doubles crowns, and still, today, holds the record as the youngest US Open finalist, both male or female.
“Don had tremendous tennis IQ,” explained Shriver, a former World No 1 Doubles player. “He could see my natural hand eye ability and size, therefore, he shaped my game to become a net rusher to apply the most pressure to each opponent.
“He coached by the winning percentages, which today would be data.
“Our 15-year tenure as player and coach was filled with hard work and laughter, a key for me to have a 19-year playing career.
“Without Don moving to my hometown of Baltimore to coach, I never would have become the player I became.”
A great raconteur, everyone listened when Candy talked, whether he was providing insightful coaching advice or entertaining friends and family with his knack for storytelling.
The cheerful Australian was universally respected as a player, coach, husband, father, and friend, and will be remembered for being ‘fun’.
Born in Adelaide during an era in which Australian players, including Lew Hoad, Mervyn Rose, Frank Sedgman, and Ken Rosewall, dominated the sport, Candy was a slender, agile player, who won 1 singles title, but made his mark in doubles by reaching 5 Grand Slam finals and winning one.
Following a 10-year career on the international circuit in the 1950s, Candy searched the classified advertisements in World Tennis magazine and ended up securing a tennis pro position at Suburban Country Club in Baltimore in 1967.
This set the stage for Candy to coach not one, but two Hall of Famers, Shriver and Jimmy Connors.
A 9-year-old Shriver took her first tennis lesson from Candy in 1971 and, later, in her first year on the WTA Tour, she reached the finals of the 1978 US Open as a 16-year-old, a testament to the coaching absorbed in her first 7 years under his tutelage.
In 1974, Candy was hired as the Head Coach of the Baltimore Banners World Team Tennis (WTT) franchise during the inaugural year of the league.
For Candy, WTT offered the unique opportunity to coach Connors, who won 3 of the 4 Grand Slams that year while compiling the best winning percentage in the WTT League.
“Don always made it fun on and off the court, and always went the extra mile to look after all of us,” said Connors. “Tennis has lost a great ambassador.”
Candy’s doubles partner Bob Perry, with whom he won the Roland Garros title in 1956, said: “We had never practiced or played together prior to teaming up in Paris, and Don made our partnership fun.
“We went on to reach the quarters at Wimbledon.”
Chris Evert remembers: “Don was the friendliest as well as the smartest coach around when I was playing.
“He took the pressure off and he made tennis fun. He always had a smile on his face, but more importantly, he gave me valuable advice during my career.”
Following retirement as Shriver’s coach, Candy settled into coaching again in Baltimore, making annual trips to his beloved Adelaide with his American wife, Elaine.
He enjoyed reuniting with his Aussie tennis ‘mates’ annually at the Australian Open, and ultimately, he and Elaine, made the move back to Adelaide.
Candy is survived by his daughter, Georgia Hall, who resides in Sydney.