CFA volunteers were recognised with a standing ovation and rousing applause at Rod Laver Arena last night (15 January) at a sold-out special event to raise money for Victorian Bushfire Disaster Appeal.
Tennis stars including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki and Stefanos Tsitsipas took to the court for an exhibition match as part of the Australian Open Rally for Relief.
A group of 30 volunteers represented CFA at the event as guests of Tennis Australia in appreciation of the efforts of all volunteers battling the current devastating fires in south and north-east Victoria.
Joined by world number three Grigor Dimitrov in their own VIP section of the stadium, volunteers were given the opportunity to watch an incredible night of tennis and entertainment as well as meet some of the stars of the sport.
Stuart Mill Fire Brigade volunteer Deb Borg – a regular player at her local tennis club – received an extra surprise, called out of the crowd to play a few points on centre court alongside her hero Rafael Nadal.
The pair swapped hugs and hi-fives as they rallied with superstars Alexander Zverev and Caroline Wozniacki in a game of Fast4 mixed doubles.
Tyers Fire Brigade 1st Lieutenant Ross Wisewould, who attended the event, said the recognition shown to CFA people for their services and the services of all firefighters Australia wide was overwhelming.
“Our members, like all CFA members, do what they do because they want to make a difference and are proud to pull on their uniform and give their everything to protect lives and property,” Peter said.
“We thank everybody at Tennis Australia and all those involved in the AO Rally for Relief for the opportunity to attend and commend the efforts of the players and the public for the amazing donations that have been made.
“We cannot wait to see what a difference this will make to those communities who have been affected by fire.”
The event raised more than $4.8 million for the appeal.