My Frustrating Year of Injury (3)
Over the next month, things finally started to look up. I was receiving less and less treatment from the NTC physiotherapists and I felt I was getting extremely close to a return to the mini tennis court. The latest scan had shown that the swelling was diminishing nicely, and with a bit of convincing from a friend, I decided to switch yoga forms. Gone were the days of gruelling Bikram yoga in Parsons Green, replaced by Hot Power Vinyasa yoga (a more spontaneous and adventurous form) in Putney. I grew a passion for coffee, and I began going with friends for my daily fix at Artisan coffee shop in Putney, thanks to Laura Robson’s recommendation. I’d always make a spontaneous decision between a latte, Americano and a truly English pot of tea!
The time had come! I was on court and playing freely once more…I’d returned using green balls in the service boxes once again. I slowly progressed over numerous weeks until I was playing hand fed points from the back of the court with my NTC coach, Nick Weal. I was finally feeling like a tennis player once more. I’d train during the day and then watch the US Open in the evenings, with a plateful of dinner that I would prepare each night and a cup of green tea to wash it down.
Watching Marin Cilic dominate the US Open was particularly amazing for me to see. Having trained numerous weeks over at Bob Brett’s Academy, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time on the court and in the gym with Marin. I spent hours and hours chasing after his jumping ground strokes and reaching to receive his kick serve. It gave me a better perspective on tennis. Getting to the top is achievable! Those top guys aren’t invincible; they’re human. They’re just extremely good at executing their games.
Finally, the week of my first event came. I decided it’d be best to ease my way back in, by competing in a British Tour event in Exeter. I was extremely excited at the prospect of competing once again, but also a little nervous at the same time. I had no idea how I’d deal with the pressures of my first tournament, having been out of the game for such a long period of time. I’d been practicing very well and freely, but with the added pressure that matches bring, who knows how I’d deal with it. Running over different situations and talking about my return with my sports psychologist helped a lot to settle the nerves. All that was left to do was to continue getting practice matches under my belt in preparation for my big return.
Losing in the final was gutting. It’s always disappointing to lose, whatever the situation. However, when looking at what I’d come through over the past year, I was over the moon with how the first event went. I’d won my first three matches, and just come short in the final against a quality opponent. However, the main success was not the outcome, but how my body had coped. My back had held up and my body had felt strong on court. Over the past eight months, I’d had serious doubts as to whether my back would heal. I even had doubts over whether I’d still have the same drive and passion for the sport as I’d had previously. I’d been extremely unmotivated at times, but I’d made it through these times with the help of my team at the NTC. They were always positive and upbeat; keeping me going from day to day and week by week, for this I am very grateful.
I now feel a stronger person and a hungrier competitor. It may take some time to get back to full form, but I’m working hard to keep improving. I know it’s not going to be an easy journey, and there’s a long way to go. But it’s no tougher than the challenges I’ve faced this year. It just takes hard work, determination and persistence every day; something that I happen to know a lot about!