Son flies home to help mum
US-based coach returns home to support clean-up
JAMIE Kirkman was halfway across the world in the USA when he found out his mum was about to be in the middle of a category four cyclone in the Whitsundays.
“I saw it on Facebook initially and it was pretty daunting being on the other side of the world (and) not knowing what’s happening,” he said.
“As soon as mum said she’d like me to come back it was a no brainer. As soon as I knew Proserpine airport was opened, I booked a flight.”
Jamie, a professional tennis coach, said he already saw the destruction that awaited him before he even got off the plane.
“When I was landing yesterday I was seeing all the trees on their side. Seeing it from the air... t’s a pretty devastating scene,” he said.
“We drove out to Shute Harbour and it’s just insane.
“We went through Cyclone Ului and seeing the boats back then was one thing but this is completely different.”
Jamie has been coaching elite junior tennis players in Orlando for the last three and a-half-years and it’s a passion for tennis he’s always shared with his mother.
Both Jamie and Jenny, who now runs Tennis Whitsunday, said they first picked up a racquet around the age of eight and hadn’t looked back since.
They even qualified at the same time to be tennis coaches.
“I’m a director of a small academy. We have an eight-year-old probably in the top 20 in the world right now,” Jamie said.
Jamie said he would spend the next few days helping his mum Jenny complete the tidy up before returning to America.
Jenny said she was lucky she hadn’t suffered more damage during the cyclone. “This was horrific.
“I think the time involved, we were preparing from the Monday afternoon, then it went onto Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I just have a small hole in my roof and no fencing but otherwise it’s okay,” she said.
As for Tennis Whitsunday, Jenny said the Cannonvale courts had help up surprisingly well with just an abundance of branches and leaves to clean up.
“Social tennis will be back on Saturday and coaching is available now. I plan on being back in the full swing when school starts back on April 18,” she said.
Jenny is also planning a fun tennis morning next Wednesday from 8-10am for kids.
You can register by contacting 0418 866 808.
BACK HOME: Jenny and her son Jamie Kennedy, who returned from the United States to help clean up the Cannonvale tennis courts after Cyclone Debbie.
INSET: The destruction is still everywhere in the park next to the Cannonvale tennis courts.