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Another Goolagong on the world stage

Evonne Goolagong is one of the greatest names in Australian sport, but her nephew Jeff is trying to make his own mark with back-to-back world championships.

Jeff Goolagong was part of the Australian Steelers' victory over New Zealand to claim the 2009 softball world championship in Canada.

He retired after that but was coaxed back by coach Bob Harrow.

Goolagong will again retire after the next world championships, which start in Auckland on Friday, confident Harrow won't be able to bring him back a second time.

He plans to focus on his young family and desperately wants to go out with a ''dream'' second world championship.

''I'm pretty happy with where I'm at with my life, I've got a new family and I'm pretty happy to hang it up,'' he said with a laugh.


''I did walk away from the game and a couple of years after that we were playing in a tournament up in Brisbane and Bob Harrow pulled me aside and we had a bit of a chat and we both came to an agreement and I ended up back in the team.''

Goolagong is in camp at the AIS with the Steelers for their final preparations, but both warm-up games against Japan at Hawker were washed out on Sunday.

He played cricket as a youngster, but had to watch his sister play softball every Saturday afternoon so started playing himself. Soon he was playing for the ACT, where he moved when he was 12.

Sport runs in the family. His aunty Evonne won seven grand slam singles titles, including two Wimbledon crowns, while his uncle Martin had a ''fair crack'' at breaking into professional golf in the US.

While Evonne spent a lot of time overseas when Goolagong was a kid, he has still been able to pick her brains about what it's like to perform on the world stage.

''I'm very lucky to have someone of that stature in my family,'' he said. ''I grew up knowing her as my aunty, it's not until later in life that I started realising what she's accomplished and done for female tennis in Australia.

''I've been lucky enough to pick her brain about a few things when we talk about how did she handle this and where did she go from there.''


Australia v Japan at Hawker International Softball Centre at 11am and 1.30pm. Admission: gold coin donation.