GRAND PRIZE: The team at Treasury Brisbane look on as Rod Laver, AC MBE, presents his 1969 Dunlop Maxply International racquet to Bevan Slattery, who was the highest bidder in Rod's Bushfire Appeal charity auction. Picture: John Tall
GRAND PRIZE: The team at Treasury Brisbane look on as Rod Laver, AC MBE, presents his 1969 Dunlop Maxply International racquet to Bevan Slattery, who was the highest bidder in Rod's Bushfire Appeal charity auction. Picture: John Tall

Super fan snaps up Rod Laver’s racquet with last-minute bid

BEVAN Slattery was walking into Rod Laver Arena to watch the men’s final at the Australian Open when it suddenly dawned on him.

He had not placed a bid for tennis legend Rod Laver’s original 1969 Dunlop Maxply International wooden racquet, which was being auctioned to raise funds for the Australian bushfire appeal.

Bevan, a technology entrepreneur and philanthropist, is a long-time admirer of “Rocket” Rod, a fellow Rockhampton-ite who is recognised as one of greatest players of all time.

Bevan went to the Pickles Auctions website and saw the leading bid was $6100.

He pledged $10,000, knowing it was going to such a worthy cause.

“I really thought it would be gone and I looked and it said there was 15 minutes to go,” he said.

“I had to hurry and register.

“I literally put the bid in at five to seven - and the tennis was starting at 7pm.”

Bevan then received an email and a text message to confirm his bid was successful.

Due to the automatic bidding system, which goes up in increments of $100, he ended up paying $6200 for the racquet.

“I had a great smile on my face,” he said.

“It was almost like it was meant to be.

“I win the racquet and then (Novak) Djokovic comes out on the court.”

HISTORY: Rod Laver with the prized racquet that was bought for $6200 by Bevan Slattery. Picture: File
HISTORY: Rod Laver with the prized racquet that was bought for $6200 by Bevan Slattery. Picture: File

Rod was in the crowd that night but he and Bevan were on opposite sides of the arena.

They did get to meet at Brisbane’s Treasury Casino a week later, where Rod presented the racquet.

“He wanted to hand it over and he happened to be in Brisbane the following Thursday,” Bevan said.

“He found out I was there and said let’s catch up and have a beer and we’ll do the racquet signing.

“We ended up talking for about an hour and a half.

“Rod had his sister there who is also from Rocky and spent time in Gladstone and we talked lots and lots of stuff about Rocky and tennis.

“They’re big fans of the Great Barrier Reef and we talked about our times at Keppel, North West and Heron.”

Rod, too, said they shared “some great Rockhampton stories”.

Bevan said it was fantastic to meet Rod for the first time.

“They say at times be careful when you meet your heroes, they’re sometimes not what they’re cracked up to be.

“This was not one of those occasions.

“Rod’s a complete gentleman and he’s so at ease.

“We had two or three beers together. He was awesome, it was just fantastic.”

Bevan plans to have the prized piece of sporting memorabilia framed.