My Frustrating Year of Injury (2)

Upon hearing the news, all I could think was that I was the unluckiest guy ever. I was distraught that I’d worked so hard to get back to competing, and now I was at the same place I had been three months earlier. Months on end I’d spent out of the game, and to have been so close to making a successful comeback, it was shattering to have been diagnosed with a reoccurrence of the stress fracture. That afternoon I remember dealing with many negative thoughts and emotions. I felt like I was dropping further behind my tennis peers, and began having huge doubts as to whether my back would ever heal. The brutal sport of tennis is an emotional rollercoaster!

I decided to take some time out at the very start. I spent a couple of weeks back in South Wales, in the comfort of my own Jacuzzi b 2home. I spent most of my time in my auntie’s Jacuzzi, which overlooks the ocean. I surrounded myself with my family, including my three aunties and my uncle, who love ‘spoiling’ me when I’m home. It made me realise that whatever situation I was dealing with, I’ll always have my family to rely on.

Having recuperated mentally from the shock of the diagnosis, I was ready to head back to London, to make a plan of action. My medical and support team at the NTC was headed up by Dr Turner, with physio Milly Mirkovic and trainer Steve Kotze. We consulted initially with Dr Paul Davies, spinal surgeon in Cardiff’s UHW and the Vale Hospital. Then later, Reed’s School tennis parent and spinal surgeon, Mr Sean Molloy of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital was brought in to oversee my treatment in London. We decided that roughly three months off court should be plenty of time. I was advised however, that I should only return to court once the stress in the bone had disappeared, this would be monitored by monthly MRI scans.

imageNow it was time to resume physical activity, and it began with a trip to the NTC nutritionist, Glen Kearney. One skin-fold test later, it was obvious I was quite out of shape. The results showed I’d put on a lot of body fat and lost muscle mass. Usually below 8% body fat, I was now up to almost 10%. Too many Welsh cakes in the Jacuzzi back home! It was time to get back to being a disciplined athlete. Goal setting was a huge part of getting me through this period, especially since I didn’t have a clear timeline to work with. I made a nutrition plan, which included cutting down portion sizes and eating clean. I set myself little targets in the gym, which I’d work towards on a weekly basis and I also continued taking part in Bikram Yoga classes in Parsons Green twice a week.

On my return back to London, Oli Golding and I made the move from his flat into a large house in Isleworth along with Tara Moore and Cameron Norrie. For several weeks, I threw myself into organising the house and making it homely, which steered my mind away from injury. I was super excited to move into my first real house, especially with three friends who all trained with me at the National Tennis Centre. After a trip to IKEA and several hours of assembling beds, tables, wardrobes and chairs the house was looking good. The remaining touches were finalised by a trip to Camden Market for some funky artwork, which was distributed and hung throughout the household.

noz bbq b 2Mishka, the Chow Chow, now had his own garden to explore. Cameron and I had our top floor room to chill out in, which we referred to as ‘the cave’, and we all became a happy household. For the first few weeks without Internet or Sky Tv, the Xbox was all the entertainment we had in the evenings. So I was forced into learning the way of life that is called ‘FIFA’. Let’s just say, I was handing out lots of apologies the first week of playing. We also had many a BBQ whilst the weather was glorious; throwing big steaks and bratwursts we’d bought from a South African shop on the sizzling flames.

The grass court season came around, which is always a busy time for British Tennis. Having played the junior event at Wimbledon on the last three occasions, it has been the most exciting time of year for me; I’d get to compete at the All England Club, practice with the pros and get a taste from what life was like at the top. Being injured and uninvolved this year, I decided to make the most of the time I had on my hands. After speaking to the Media team at the LTA, we decided that it’d be great if I could do some reporting on the Wimbledon Qualifying, focusing on the British players in the draws. It was great to be part of the action and gave me some experience writing reports, which may come in handy in the future. My match reports can be found at http://www.lta.org.uk/fans-major-events/wimbledon/news/2014/oli-golding-through-to-second-round-of-wimbledon-qualifying/.

Having closely followed the Men’s Singles event at Wimbledon, it reminded me of a trip I took to Bangkok back in 2010. I imagerecollect one of my school mates, Jorge Wilton, took to the court for a night match against a young, out of shape Aussie. An hour later, Jorge found himself having been chopped 6-2 6-4. He was baffled as to how he could have lost to this un-athletic kid! Three years later, I drew this guy in the first round of Junior Wimbledon. By this point he was a lot fitter and stronger. I lost in two competitive sets, 6-4 6-3, and watched 20+ aces go past my outstretched racket. This year, I watched him dismantle Rafael Nadal on centre court at Wimbledon, to reach the quarter finals of his first ever Men’s Wimbledon. This kid was Nick Kyrgios! Having been out of action for months and months, it gave me huge amounts of drive to see a player that I’d been competing with for several years, make dramatic improvements like this. It was an enlightening experience! If he could improve that much in the space of 12 months, then what’s stopping anyone else? What’s stopping me?

(End of part 2)

Third and final part will be posted in a couple days! Stay tuned…

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