A former Australian tennis star is one of many new MPs heading into Victorian parliament.
Sam Groth, who is a former world number 53 male tennis player and holds the record for the world’s fastest serve, was elected in the seat of Nepean on the Mornington Peninsula on Saturday.
The 35-year-old father of young twin boys was a Liberal candidate and said he wanted to go into politics to “make a difference”.
“I didn’t want to use my profile to moan and complain about the things not being done in this state,” he told Channel 9, where he is a tennis commentator, on Saturday night before the seat was called.
“I wanted to put my hand up to try and drive change in this state but also try to drive change in this party.”
He continued, “I’m 35 years of age, I was a professional athlete, I worked in the media, and I’m hopeful that if I can get over the line tonight that I can actually encourage candidates from different walks of life to put themselves forward and we can really start to move forward as a party and make ourselves, if not tonight, a viable form of government in this state in the future.”
Less than three hours after counting started on Saturday night, the race was called for Labor. The win will make Daniel Andrews the state’s longest-serving Labor Premier.
Groth ousted incumbent Labor MP Chris Brayne. The Liberals held the seat of Nepean between 2002 and 2018, but lost it to Labor at the last election.
Groth moved to Blairgowrie with his wife Brittany in 2020.
At Groth’s election event on Saturday night there was champagne, oysters and tennis balls with his campaign slogan #READYTOSERVE.
When the Channel 9 election coverage panel joked about the lavish event in Sorrento, Groth said the volunteers had “put in a lot of work” for him.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting them to call this so early in the night so I am very happy. I haven’t had a chance to have a beer yet,” Groth said in his victory speech, according to the ABC.
Minutes after his victory speech, news filtered through that the election had been called for Labor, ABC reporter Kristian Silva tweeted from the event.
“A joyous mood turned subdued,” he wrote.
Groth revealed in December last year he revealed he had been approached by the Liberal Party.
“Yes, I have been approached. I’m undecided and I’m weighing up my options,” he told Herald Sun at the time.
“Like many Victorians, I think it’s time for a change in government.”