Andrew Castle is set to make a return to commentating this year. He’ll be doing it at the Wimbledon Championships. He’s been reminiscing on some of his memories from commentating.
In an interview with Betway, he shared his view that research is the key to being successful as a commentator.
“I don’t really know what qualifies you to commentate or present on any particular subject other than a vigorous amount of research to do it justice”, Castle said.
He also revealed the first match he ever commentated on.
“My first commentary was a Rafael Nadal match out on court 12, and I remember him standing out.”
Rafael Nadal has since become one of the most successful tennis players still active today. Castle knows how fortunate he is to be able to commentate on their matches.
“It grew from there. Now I get to sit in the Centre Court commentary box with these legends watching guys like Nadal and Roger Federer. How lucky is that?”
But commentating tennis matches in the most-watched slots on the BBC wasn’t where Castle got his start.
In fact, he was commentating on other sports he wasn’t as interested in for years before landing his dream job.
He also commentated on some tennis, but he said “I worked with Sue Barker in a small airless box in a car park in Isleworth”.
So not quite the best situation to be in.
But he also revealed a memory that was arguably worse than this, despite being in a better place in his career.
In 2013, the men’s singles final was taking place. After the final ball had gone into the net, the now-retired tennis player Tim Henman jumped up next to him.
“Henners smacked me right in the head with his elbow – I assume accidentally. He almost knocked me unconscious!”
That was one of the most eventful matches he’d ever been involved in, and it could have been worse.
But that’s the way tennis can be. It’s an unpredictable sport that’s full of emotion, with twists and turns that even the professionals don’t expect.
Castle knows this well, having been a professional tennis player himself between 1986 and 1992. Not only that, he became the top tennis player in Britain during that time. So, he understands the sport in a way that many other tennis commentators may not.
He then went on to recall how he landed work at Wimbledon. It was a case of knowing the right person at the right time.
“I remember being up in Slaley Hall in Northumberland during the first week of Wimbledon. I was covering the golf for Sky Sports.
I was sitting there in my room thinking: ‘It’s a bit mad that I’m doing the golf when all this tennis is going on’.
I called an old friend who was actually in charge of the Wimbledon broadcast and managed to get on board with that, luckily.”
Being able to call up an old friend gave Castle the biggest opportunity of his life, and many of our best moments in life come from the connections we’ve made over time.
For Castle, it gave him the chance to become a famous tennis commentator, after already having been a famous tennis player.
Castle has been commentating matches on the BBC since 2003, so that means he’s been in this role for almost 2 decades. That’s a long time. Back in 2003, social media didn’t even exist. So Castle has had to keep up with the times.
That’s something Castle has no problems with. The reason being he always comes prepared for whatever he needs to do, whether that’s commentating on tennis or any of the other roles he’s held.
“I remember covering the international Horse of the Year Show from Olympia. I knew nothing about horses until I learned everything there was to learn from the people in the game.
“If I’m interviewing the Prime Minister on GMTV, I’m preparing a set of questions that I want to know the answer to. That’s based on journalism.
“People might say: ‘What’s a tennis player doing working on this?’. Well, I have done the work, so now I’ll wear whichever hat somebody wants me to wear.”
It’s not an easy task to switch between roles like that, and it takes a lot of experience to be able to do it. That’s exactly why Castle has performed so well in the world of tennis, both as a player, and as a commentator.
He knows how to step back and look at the big picture, preparing himself in advance and throwing himself into whatever tasks await him.
But no matter what he gets up to, it’s Wimbledon that’s captured his heart.
“I have goosebumps when I arrive and nobody’s around. It’s just one of the great privileges to call it my place of work.”
Knowing that you’re happy with the work you do is an under-rated privilege. For people who are unhappy in their roles, life can feel like a daily grind.
And it’s true that Wimbledon isn’t a full-time job. The Championships only take place for 2 weeks every year, but it’s full-on for those 2 weeks.
A good example of this was the 2013 men’s single final. Not only did Castle almost get knocked out by Henman, but he also got the chance to announce to the nation that Andy Murray had become the first man to win during the Open Era.
“Throughout that game I kind of knew it was my job to lead viewers through the emotional turmoil.
Something like 72 per cent of UK televisions were watching, so that was quite a responsibility. Hopefully we did it justice.”
What a brilliant life in tennis for Andrew Castle.