Old Boy Gregory Howe (1988) attended Churchie in 1987 as a boarder in Gerald house. Whilst he played cricket and tennis during the year, he concedes: “I certainly didn’t set the world on fire – I was in the fifths for cricket and competed in the third team for tennis where my physics teacher, Mr Schultz, was coach.”
After Churchie, Gregory attended the University of Queensland (UQ) to study an arts degree and then teaching. Whilst there, he resided at St John’s College and played for the tennis team. Fascinated with sport and the idea of becoming good at it, by the time he left UQ he was ranked 16 in Queensland.
During the next decade, Gregory lived and taught in schools across London, all the while competing in small money tournaments. He had always dreamt of playing on the pro tour, so at 34 years-of-age he quit his teaching job and gave himself one year to make it onto the professional rankings and play the ATP tour. Whilst he grew up in Australia, Gregory’s birthplace was in Derbyshire, England, so he represented Great Britain on the circuit. He started his year-long journey in the minor leagues, initially struggling against younger, fitter aspiring pros. This saw him compete on the third-tier Futures tour in places like Pakistan, Sudan, Iran and Uganda, just to name a few. Along the way he encountered almost everything the tennis world has to offer, from rising stars racing to the top, to players whose hopes were slowly being shattered. Eventually, he managed to juggle competing on the ATP tour with holding down a nine-to-five job. By the end of the year he found himself in the qualifying of elite ATP events and sharing the locker room with players like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
While he travelled, Gregory kept notes of conversations and observations with the idea of trying to write a book about his experiences. Even though he was an English teacher, it was much harder than he had imagined. After eight years he committed himself to writing the story, which took six months and a year of editing. In May 2018, Chasing POINTS: A Season on the Pro Tennis Circuit was released. “In many ways, my book will give a good insight into the early stages of another Churchie Old Boy’s experiences, namely John Millman. John was on the Futures at the same time when my book was set. Unfortunately, I never met John whilst on tour, but I recall hearing the story that he used to turn up to tournaments simply with a backpack and a couple of racquets. Now that he’s an established ATP pro, I’m sure he has more racquets now.”
Gregory still regularly plays competitive tennis.