Also an outstanding junior athlete and cricketer, Tenace was seemingly destined for great things. He would choose football over both, though his athletic prowess, more specifically his blinding pace, would prove to be more than handy on the football field as well.
As a country boy hailing from the great Victorian region of Shepparton, Tenace spent his junior days playing for his local Shepparton Bears team. He would prove to be too good for his fellow juniors, and quickly made the step up into his regional team, the Murray Bushrangers, as a bottom-age player.
Though not eligible to be drafted to an Australian Football League squad until the following year, Tenace made sure scouts took early notice of him, impressing by playing 14 games for the Bushrangers and booting 11 goals at an average of 18 disposals per game along the way. His superb performances as a underaged junior saw him gain selection for the State team in the mid-season Carnival. There, he flourished even more, countlessly leaving helpless opponents in his wake with his dashing runs along the wing.
As a stunning underage success, the hype surrounding his draft year, 2003, grew as it approached. As the season arrived, Tenace was named one of 3 co-captains for the club, a sure sign of his leadership capabilities and a handsome reward for his startling junior career thus far.
Tenace did not disappoint, dominating plays with his ability to break open congested packs with his breakneck speed and ball-gathering ability. Again, his performances earned him selection in the mid-year State Carnival, where he had excelled on the wing the previous year. Tenace went one better, being named a co-captain for his State team, Vic Country, whilst enjoying yet another excellent carnival.
In the lead up to the AFL Draft, Tenace was invited to perform at the National AFL Draft Camp, a display show of sorts for the top junior footballers around the country in front of countless AFL club scouts and recruiting officers. Here, his athletic abilities shone more brightly than ever, with Tenace finishing in the top 10 percent of players in the the 20m sprint, agility tests, and standing vertical jump.
An outstanding two years for the Murray Bushrangers, coupled with his dominating displays at the State Carnivals and the National Draft Camp, saw Tenace firm as a likely top 10 pick come November. Indeed, at one stage, rumours abroad suggested the Carlton Blues, holding the 2nd selection overall in the draft, would pick him up with the number two draft pick. Alas, Tenace was snapped up with the 7th pick by the Geelong Cats.
Being the Cats highest ever draft selection in a number of years, much was expected of Tenace in his rookie season for the club. The club was coming off another disappointing year, and Tenace had been hyped up as just the dose Geelong needed in its otherwise slow, workmanlike midfield, with AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan one of many comparing Tenace to the West Coast Eagles young superstar Chris Judd.After opening the season playing for the club's VFL (reserves) team, Tenace was called up for his debut game in the Round 2 clash against the Carlton Blues. Coming off the bench early in the first quarter, Tenace immediately made his presence known, dashing along the wing, scooping up a loose ball, accelerating past a couple of defenders, and banging home his maiden goal with his first disposal in league football. Though the Cats went home with an embarrassing 54 point loss hovering over their heads, Tenace impressed in his debut showing with 12 disposals and a goal.
Tenace held his spot in the senior team for the following weeks, continuing to impress with his blinding pace and exciting run-and-goal dashes off the wing.
Indeed, his performance against the Fremantle Dockers in Round 5 included what many predict is a glimpse of things to come; Tenace taking four bounces sprinting down the wing, playing a one-two handball with Gary Ablett Jnr, before slamming home a goal to keep the Cats within striking distance at the final change.
His performance led then-former Sydney Swans coach Rodney Eade to claim that if it wasn't for Carlton's Andrew Walker's stellar debut against the West Coast Eagles on that same weekend, the nation would be talking up Tenace as the AFL's best first-year talent.Dubbed the new 'Geelong Flyer', after club legend Bobby Davis, Tenace captured the National Rising Star nomination for Round 6 after another scintilating display against Andrew McLeod and the Adelaide Crows, in one run, outsprinting McLeod, one of the quickest players in the league, for the ball.
Tenace slowed down form-wise somewhat midseason, forcing the club to drop him back to the VFL, before some good performances for the reserves side earned him a recall to the senior team late in the season.
Tenace finished the season with 12 games to his name, in the process stamping himself as one of the up and coming bright onballers of the league. Averaging 10.6 disposals a game, Tenace also took home Geelong's Best First Year Player Award.
After his impressive debut season and Geelong's spectacular finish to the season, where they finished two goals short of a Grand Final appearance, spots in the team were hot.
Desperate to override the 'second year blues' effect that notoriously takes hold of second year players, Tenace set about working to make a position in the team's midfield his own. Indeed, his pre-season impressed many, with Tenace spending each intra-club match playing on the wing - his ability to run, bounce and carry the ball up and down the ground a feature of his game.After glimpses of his potential in his rookie year, Tenace showed the sort of form early on against his teammates to suggest he would exert a much bigger influence on the Cats' fortunes in the season ahead. Combined with his raw speed, many expected Tenace to add even more potency to the Cats' midfield in 2005.
Sporting a new look with his flowing locks, he did little to suggest otherwise early on, averaging close to 18 disposals in the Cats opening 3 games. He cooled off, however, struggling to regain the form which had promised so much in his pre-season campaign over the summer off-season. His kicking out of touch, Tenace was relegated to playing off the bench in bursts for much of the remaining season games.
Though he would play 18 games, including the club's two finals appearances, Tenace's 2005 campaign was riddled with inconsistency. It wasn't until late in the season that Tenace settled in and found his foot within the team, finishing with a tidy average of 12.7 disposals a game.
With two seasons under his belt, Tenace is expected to blossom as he enters his third year with the club.