By Margaret Maccoll
For most of his life Pete Hoad rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous growing up as the son of one of Australia’s tennis icons Lew Hoad.
At his father’s luxury tennis resort in Spain he grew up as a child playing with actor Sean Connery’s son.
As he got older Pete Hoad played and coached at the exclusive Club de tenis y padel Lew Hoad in Mijas on the Costa del Sol and took over as manager of the club when his father died in 1994.
Noosa Today caught up with him at John’s Landing where he has lived for the past three years.
Lew Hoad was regarded as the greatest amateur tennis player of the 1950s. He won Wimbledon, the French and Australian Opens and with doubles partner Australian Ken Rosewall doubles wins in Wimbledon and the French and Australian competitions.
Pete said his father had a knack of being in the right place at the right time.
His parents moved to Spain in the 1960s and started building a tennis club.
“When we moved there, there were three or four fishing villages,” he said.
“It was a military dictatorship. There was no crime, no traffic lights, now it’s like the Gold Coast. When I go back I can’t take it. It’s full of foreigners. All the Spaniards got pushed out.”
The club played host to many film stars and sporting greats.
“My dad was extremely well connected,” he said.
“Sean was there in the early days, in his James Bond days. There were other actors – Donald Pleasence and Richard Burton. I was there when Princess Diana came. She booked a holiday for herself and two girlfriends.
“The media caught on to it and it all went wrong.
Pete was 34 when he took over the club.
“We struggled in the late 90s,” he said. “We got into debt. We couldn’t afford to continue with it. It was very sad. It was a beautiful club, a magnificent property.
After the sale Pete moved to Perth with his wife and seven children.
“We couldn’t afford to live in Europe. “I was virtually working as an illegal alien. I knew the authorities and police and we employed people so they turned a blind eye.
Moving to Australia for a better life for his children, he said, “was the best thing I did.”
Sadly, his marriage broke up, but Pete stayed in Perth for 10 years coaching tennis and doing some laboring work.
He returned in 2003 to Spain where his mother, now 83, still lives at a cottage at the tennis club and stayed until 2007.
Wanting a fresh start he headed to the east coast but admits of late his life had “spiraled out of control”.
For 15 years Pete has been without a permanent home, often by choice. He said he had held full-time jobs over those years but on principle refused to pay more than half his income on rent.
“I’d rather pitch a tent,” he said.
For the past three years he has lived at John’s Landing.
Pete is hoping to soon rent a place in Kin Kin.