By late 1984 after 1982-83 foundational development and initiating the travel meeting sport administrators (1984), I had already established chaplaincies in several professional sports such as cricket, rugby league, AFL, motor racing, the PGA, the NBL Basketball (the first being the Illawarra Hawks), yachting and many other sports, I was ready to open discussions with the tennis fraternity.
My initial visit to Sydney's White City bore fruit, and this led to an invitation to both the Australian Open in Melbourne, and Queensland Tennis in Brisbane where chaplaincy appointments were made. Tim Harland's ministry in Queensland was the first.
The most significant tennis link was, however, receiving Christian support from Margaret Court in Perth. This was achieved through our Sydney yachting friends Hugh and Jeanine Treharne, who were in Freemantle for the America's Cup.
Hugh Treharne was racing – his fame was as the tactician on Australia II in 1983 winning the America's Cup. Jeanine was an international yachting champion in her own right and the yachting chaplain. She was a good friend of Margaret Court and her husband, Barry, and introduced them to me as the Australian cricket chaplain.
Margaret Court welcomed me warmly into her home, and subsequently, the support offered since in sports ministry over these many years has been insightful and wonderfully encouraging.
This Grand Slam Tennis phenomenon and national sporting icon has won more Grand Slam championships than any other tennis player in history. But more than that, Margaret Court has also been a stalwart in Christian ministry who currently runs a mega church in Perth, Victory Life Centre, which has an emphasis on evangelism and serving the community. Her prayer ministry for the healing of people with serious illnesses, diseases and debilitating disabilities is well known across the Pentecostal world.
My wife Delma has always been a very keen tennis player and loves watching the tennis on television, and was very pleased when he invited Margaret Court to be the keynote speaker at our inaugural Sports and Leisure Ministry conference.
Delma often recalls how inadequate a tennis player she felt when chatting to Margaret, yet both rejoiced their togetherness in Jesus Christ.
In 2010 Mark and Delma were invited to utilise the film and television studio at Victory Life Centre where Delma interviewed Susan Fuhrmann, the Australian and Western Australian netball sensation, and Mark interviewed Margaret Court for the Australian Missionary News IPTV. Both these interviews are on Mark Tronson's You Tube channel.
The miracles of the tennis ministry was how the tennis world welcomed chaplaincy and that how Christians were already in place for the welcoming of the ministry.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html