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Australian Story -

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# Theme music Hello, I'm Gerard Whateley from ABC Grandstand Sport. In 2002 Jade Hopper became the
youngest person ever featured on Australian story. She was just ten years old and billed as perhaps
the best tennis player her age in the world. Her father, Gavin, was a leading coach and he had been
preparing her for greatness since she was five. But some dramatic developments were just around the
corner. Now aged 19, Jade is facing the toughest decision of her life. This is her story. Once upon
a time, there was a girl called Jade, who started playing tennis when she was just a little girl.
Jade is a fantastic tennis player. She can hit from the baseline. Someday she will be a great and
famous tennis player. I'd like to work towards any other 10-year-old's goal, which would be number
one tennis player in the world. I want to achieve the goal I've set for myself at four years of
age. If it costs seven days a week training my butt off, then I'll do it. And if I have to do it
364 days a week or how many days a year it has, or 650 - then I'll do that. A lot of people were
telling me when I was younger, 'Well, you're going to be the next superstar. You're as good as
Monica Seles, Anna Kournikova at the same age.' And I thought, 'well, if I'm as good as them,
there's no problem me being at the top', but it's kind of a different view I've got now'.

The reality of the tennis circuit is there's a lot of people like Jade. It's just not that easy to
make it. There's more stories like Jade than there is anything else.

She's still got the commitment and the drive. Certainly the focus on what she's doing, but
circumstances and challenges and life throws you curve balls. It was so drastic and had such a huge
impact on her as a person, and her as a tennis player, and everything changed.

I don't like thinking about what could have been or what should have happened or if this hadn't of
happened. I think it's part of what happened when I was younger, maybe it's not looking back. #
BRITNEY SPEARS: Stronger

Good hit. Great footwork. Yeah, she's number one 12 and under in Australia. People claim she's the
number one 10-year-old in the world. She's only actually lost something like four times in her
career - tournament tennis. And I'm, you know, I know she's way over 150 wins. I'm sure every
father sits there and says their little girl's pretty special. I mean, there's no doubt. You're her
father, so, you know, my little girl's very special.

It's so fun working with my dad, because he's my dad, he's my coach, he's my friend - he's
everything, basically, to me. He knows me too well, so, I can't, kind of like, can't fake anything.
I have to actually put - I have to actually put in the effort.

She's probably got a somewhat of an obsessive father, and I say that in the nicest sense. But she's
got a father who is fairly obsessive to give her the opportunity to be the best she can be in
anything she does. Good girl, beautiful hitting, Jade. Look, there is no doubt that there's a fine
line here you walk as a coach and a parent. Make me miss first, Jade. We could be here until dark.
I'm not going to miss. At practice, I'm pretty tough on her. I get tough on her when she doesn't
run for a ball or she doesn't - she misses something through lack of concentration. Little things
that I believe in that I say to her every day - 'Listen to me, just listen, and try to do the
things I'm asking you to do.' I was on the pro tennis tour - both the women's and men's tour, for
13 years, and coached names such as Mark Kratzmann, Jason Stoltenberg, Wally Masur, Mark
Philippoussis, Monica Seles, Amanda Coetzer, and Tommy Haas. Jade was actually born while I was on
the pro circuit. I'd been coaching three years, and she was actually a Wimbledon baby, and I had to
come home and miss the tournament and that was 1991. Since then, she's pretty much been on the
tour, you know, she's been on the road.

And that was our priority, to be together as a family as much as we can. So, whether that family
life is together in a hotel room in Paris, at home on the Gold Coast, in a little, tiny flat in
London - wherever that home life may be, that's where we wanted to be, to be together. London.

London.

For Wimbledon.

Wimple.

For the tennis.

I remember when I was little, I was inside playing with a balloon and a tennis racquet, a little,
tiny tennis racquet, my first little tennis racquet.

I started Jade on the court at around about three and a half, where I actually started her, feeding
her balls and that. The first year, she was doing half an hour a day, then by four - 45 minutes,
five - maybe an hour a day. By that stage, they start to hit the ball pretty well - by five and
six. And then you lift it up a little bit higher, about six or seven - that's an hour, and hour and
a half a day - and then by seven and a half to eight, they're pretty much in full training, which
is two to three hours a day. And now it's lifted up again, because the little body can handle it.
This is what Hingis did, this is what the Williams girls did, it's what Seles did. They all did it.
And they did it from two or three years of age.

Someone else with quite a few years left left to play in the 18s, our 18 and under singles winner,
Jade Hopper.

(Applause) In the last two years, I've won all these, and I think that's pretty amazing. I'm trying
to find room for every single one. I've squashed these up and I've put some on an angle, and it's
really hard to find room for all of them. I'm the audience and give me a little dance.

We have two girls - Jade, and her younger sister, Skye.

# Pop music plays

Jade can play in a fairly big tournament, and an hour later, be in her room playing with Skye.

I had this thought you'd have to be born with a special talent and not many people did. And I
thought Hingis and Anna Kournikova and Lindsay Davenport were all born with this, and that's how
they became so famous and stuff. Well, now I don't think there's any special talent. I've worked my
butt off for the last six years, seven years, and I've got another 20 to go, so, I'm not looking
forward to those years, but I am.

I watched Jade develop over the years from a real tiny little girl and all the way through. I was
partners with Gavin, Cash Hooper Tennis Academy for, I dunno, eight or nine years, maybe. I've seen
her work ethic, and worked with Gavin as a sound board really on her game and what she can improve
on and various things like that, as I would as a good friend and a business partner. She was a good
prospect, she was one of the best in the country and people were looking towards her - a lot's
happened in those last two or three years and I think its been pretty tough for her and you need a
bit of luck. And I think its fair to say she hasn't had much of that in the last few years.

I just turned 13, one day mum said, 'Dad's not going to come home from the meeting.' And we were
like, 'OK, we'll see him tomorrow'. 'No, he's not going to come home'.

The closest we came to this was a parking ticket, so, how do you prepare for something like this,
and you're trying to piece together your life from 20 years ago - what happened and what were you
doing?

Gavin Maxwell hopper was a good looking 29-year-old teacher at Melbourne's Wesley College when the
girl, who can't be identified, was aged 14. Hoppers lawyers, David Galbally, says his client is not
guilty of any offence, and had no relationship with the girl other than that of a normal teacher
and student.

It was so unexpected, so unexpected for all of us. We were at a loss. I'm at a loss now when I
think about it. However, my priority was that the girls were safe and secure and they were happy -
as any parent would want for their children. I wanted them to be happy, I wanted them to be safe
and to be loved and to know that they were loved.

We were shielded a lot from the media surrounding Dad's case, my little sister and I, we didn't
know what was going on. It wasn't until the actual conviction came that we realised what was
happening and then obviously Mum explained it to us, but how do you explain to a 13-year-old and a
10-year-old...

Gavin Hoppers wife was composed outside and in court where she watched her husband sentenced to
jail.

When I came home by myself without Gavin and told them what had happened, it was a complete shock
to them, as it was a shock to me - that he wasn't going to be part of our life, wasn't going to be
living with us, wasn't going to be the tennis coach or the father that they'd known day in and day
out. Wasn't going to be there as a husband that I knew, and we were going to have to make the most
of it. But literally, that first night, we just cried. We cried all night. Just trying to explain
it in terms to Jade and Skye that they could understand as simply as I possibly could..

I think the fact that the court case and the prison sentence for Gavin came up was a shock to us
all, and probably the biggest shock to the kids. It was incredibly destructive to a thriving tennis
academy that was producing nothing but the country's best juniors and, but more importantly than
anything it was the family and Jade's sort of progress through a really critical time when she was
a teenager when it was important for her to develop in the right way.

It was at the time when I was 13. He was making some changes in my game moving me from very young
juniors into world juniors and world circuit. During that time he was able to coach me through
videos and photos, of my technique, but, I mean, it's never the same as in person coaching and to
pick up and improve on my own technique and pretty much be my own coach at that young age, I mean,
it was quite astounding for me to look back and think that I actually did it.

The absence of Gavin when he went to prison, the effect that it had on Jade and Skye was
devastating and it did affect them personally, publicly, and in their tennis commitments, in their
schooling. Everything just went down really, and it did, because there isn't that person that's the
motivator, as the supporter. Someone not doing it for them, but doing it with them, so they really
missed that support of their father and coach that was able to be there with them, making it fun,
making it interesting and keeping them on track.

My Dad said it could have been the changing of my career and I might have gone, might have been
better than I am now but its my life, I mean, =yes you could have done that, should have done that,
but at the end of the day you cant change it. When he came back I was 15, 13 is a little girl and
15's - I was almost 16. I'm a young lady. It was a different relationship. It was more - not
father/daughter anymore, it was - as much as I was not a little kid of course it's still
father/daughter no matter how old I am, but it was more like, 'OK, I'm older, I have my opinions
now.'

She's gone past the juniors and now into the senior ranks. I think she's managed incredibly well to
be perfectly honest, but in the world where you're breaking from juniors to seniors, there's a lot
more elements involved in when everybody is big, when everybody's hit a lot of balls, when
everybody's out there playing the tournaments. Throughout most of the year we base in Istanbul,
Turkey where Jade and Skye train at a tennis academy, which Gavin directs. He's working with
Jarmila and Sam Groth, Jarmila or Jarka is doing fantastically well, Australia's No.2 player and
he's running a very successful little tennis Centre.

Jarmilla a great support and great friend, she's become like a big sister to me. They live with us
in Istanbul and train as well my younger sister Skye is doing really well, she almost 16 now, so
she's little lady herself. She travels Europe doing the junior tennis tournaments. The loneliness
on the circuit is probably one of the toughest for me to cope with. I'm in Spain one week, Portugal
the next, up to France and it's like every week you're winning some, you're losing some and it's
because you're almost guaranteed to lose every week and it's hard, especially when you travel by
yourself, you're out of the tournament, you're alone and you're kind of like 'OK, well, that was
bad. That was not fun.'

Being on the circuit is one of the most unhealthy things that a human being can possibly do for
their mental health. There's only one winner of a tournament and you've got to bounce onto the next
one and keep going. You know, you've got to ignore a lot of people that you love in your life and
follow your dreams, your best friend is your enemy the next day because you've got to play them on
the court. They're really unhealthy sort of things, But they're the sort of things that make you a
champion in really the toughest sport there is.

Its not the Cinderella lifestyle that I even saw at ten. It's wonderful from the outside. I travel
to amazing places, amazing countries and almost a different country every couple of weeks, and
that, to be able to experience that is one of the best parts honestly of my career - is being able
to meet all the different people. But it's also one of the worst. I'm alone for a lot of the weeks
of the year and that's hard for a 19-year-old girl to do, to be away from my friends and family and
my support network. But sometimes I would have given anything to just go home, anything to just
walk into home, get a hug from my mum, play with my sister, beat her on Wii, you know. There was so
many times that I can remember that I've just almost had enough.

Jade is currently playing with Jarmila Groth, her doubles partner in the doubles at the Brisbane
International tournament. She and Jarka, Jarmilla Groth won their first round doubles match against
two experienced doubles players in the tournament. Jade was just so overcome, she couldn't stop
smiling or she couldn't stop hugging Jarka and kissing her and it was just so lovely to see,
because it was her first tournament at that level.

In the quarterfinals we played the second seeds and the girls were very good as you'd expect as a
WTA tournament. We lost two and four, I think, but really to experience the next level in doubles
was a good experience and a good wake up. Sort of, 'Wow, OK, that level is high, but it was
reachable.' I mean, I was out there competing and I didn't feel like I was at all not worthy of my
spot on the court.

Good luck today.

Thanks, Rob.

Alicia Molik heading out onto centre court. Her opponent of course is young Jade Hopper.

I'm in Melbourne playing the Australian wildcard playoffs for 2011 hoping to get a chance of
playing the main draw of the Australian Open.

Any nerves today?

Ah, yeah. There always is going onto any match and I played her last year, so should be a good
match. Good luck. Right now, I'm ranked 454 on the WTA tour in singles and 175 in doubles. The
amount of distance between where I am and where top 50 is, I mean it feels, some days it feels
bigger than the world combined. Other days it feels kind of close.

To become a tennis player you need all the elements. You need technique, you need to be mentally
tough. You know, I think Jade had both of those. You needed the physical aspect. We've just found
the game to become - it's more and more about power and strength. I think genetics, unfortunately,
for tennis for her hasn't worked in her favour.

See, she's moving backwards actually.

Jade is not a big girl and so that's - of anything, that's probably the one thing she has no
control oF and it's effected her ability to produce power in a power game.

She's definitely at a disadvantage playing bigger girls who are stronger, heavier. Jade's a little
over 50 kilos, so when you're playing someone who's 70 odd kilos, they can really play a lot more
powerfully, a lot more stronger. I was kind of brought up to believe and I thought myself to
believe I was going to be there, I was going to be a top 10, number one in the world, win Grand
Slams. It was not even a question in my mind, because I had people telling me I would. But I think
it was later on that I was playing the tournaments and I wasn't doing as well as I was expected to
do and I was kind of like, 'Well, maybe that wasn't all correct, maybe everybody just expected a a
little bit too much of a little 10-year-old, that I was just having fun on court really.' And then
it changed into, 'Well, why aren't I winning anymore? Why aren't I winning nationals and being
number one in my age group?' And that hit me a little bit hard. When I didn't win the tournament or
didn't fulfil expectations there was of disappointment, there was a lot of pressure and so now - I
don't enjoy any type pressure. I don't even like setting little goals now. For maybe the first time
in my life I kind of see different options, and I'm really considering the other options.

Jade has achieved quite good results which has enabled her to get into university for law at USQ,
University of Southern Queensland. She's enjoying doing her units while she's still training and
travelling with her tennis.

With tennis, it's so unknown. I mean, I could work as hard as I want and for as many hours and for
as many years and may never achieve my ultimate goal or what I'd like to get to. I guess that's why
I enjoy study so much more, or I find study easier, no matter what subject I'm doing. If I read it
enough times I'm going to understand it eventually and if I work really hard I'm going to get a
degree at the end of the day.

She's a clever girl, she's studying law and she's been around the tennis long enough to know that
she's probably not going to make it.

Eventually, as bad as this is to say, I'm going to start failing in one area of my life, my
academic work or my tennis, one is eventually going to have to take importance over the other one,
and if it comes to it, that I make the decision I'll choose my university if I cant do both.

The things that she's learnt in tennis, the dedication required, the time to be put into something
to be successful, you know you can take that anywhere and those lessons are terrific and having to
deal with adversity, having to deal with pressure.

At the Australian Open I played doubles with Monica and I wasn't sure if I'd get the wildcard and I
was so happy when I heard I was able to play. We lost quite convincingly. It was an unbelievable
experience to play and to have - I mean, just to have a badge as a player of the Australian Open.
That's been my dream. It's all about the journey, no matter where you finish up, no matter if you
are the next number one tennis player in the world, or if you're able to do something else. It's
about what experiences you've had and how you've handled them along the way.

Obviously my dream is become world number one.

I'd like to play in the Australian Open.

I guess the best player in the world, that'd be a great achievement.

To just work my best and maybe reach number one.

Just keep believing it, because belief is a great thing to have as a kid. I mean, I think as you
get older maybe you have to be more realistic, but as a kid, you've got to dream and you've got to
dream big. I mean, if they want to be number one in the world, I say go for it, you know. I'd say
the same thing to my 10-year-old self. I just have to get off the court. Closed captions by CSI.
with an ABC News Update. Japan is having trouble dealing with the full horror of Friday's horror of
Friday's earthquake and tsunami disaster. with another explosion at to find food and shelter for up
to found. However the local police chief