Tony Downer, a retired venture capitalist from Connecticut, has won a trip to the Australian Open in 2021 and a coaching experience with Aussie Darren Cahill as part of the ATP's fundraising auction which will benefit coaches affected by the current pandemic.
Retired venture capitalist and tennis fan wins coaching experience with Darren Cahill
As part of his experience, Downer will enjoy a two-hour session with Australian coach Darren Cahill, who currently works with World No.
2 Simona Halep, at Melbourne Park during the 2021 Australian Open. He will also receive two premium tickets for the men’s and women’s singles finals at the 2021 Australian Open, along with a behind-the-scenes tour and access to premium hospitality.
Besides being a tennis fan, Downer has also been a ball person at the US Open and at the New York Open. Speaking to the ATP Tour website, Downer says, "By any and all measures Darren Cahill appears to be an extraordinarily stand-up, bright, committed, accomplished guy and you say, ‘Okay, this might be the right moment, the right way to go take in the Australian Open.
The financial support or earning power of everyone involved, including the coaches, has been cut off completely. I have enormous respect for the coaches. Their economics are such that if the player isn’t competing and the player isn’t earning, they’re left without earnings”.
Downer says he has been impressed with the long list of players that Cahill has worked with, which includes the likes of Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova and currently Simona Halep.
“It really is extraordinary that he’s been able to work effectively with such a broad range of players. That’s not an inevitable or natural result that one would project. Somebody who is effective hypothetically with an Andre Agassi is not necessarily going to be able to work and get inside the head of Simona Halep”.
Darren Cahill is a former professional player himself, and reached the semi-finals of the 1988 US Open in singles and the finals of the men's doubles at the Australian Open in 1989. He was also a member of the Australian Davis Cup in 1990, which reached the final.
His peak career doubles ranking was of World No. 10 in doubles and World No. 22 in singles. Besides a coach, he is also an tennis analyst for the US sports network ESPN.