The road to being a pro…

Jun 21, 14 The road to being a pro…

Throughout my life I’ve always known that I wanted to be a tennis player. Fortunately for me I was exposed to tennis at such a young age through the influence of my parents and luckily I only had to climb under a barbed wire fence at the end of my garden in order to play at 1879 tennis club. I used to spend hours a week down at 1879 either practising against the wall or playing against someone and if neither were possible I would still just hang out down there as I loved the atmosphere, some people would say I have tennis in my blood. 

By Toby Martin who represents Great Britain on the professional tennis circuit –   

Although my parents were keen for me to pursue tennis they made sure that I would play every other sport possible in order to further my skills and most importantly not get burnt out. Being a tennis player is a very lonely world and I to this day am incredibly grateful to my parents for sending me to a great school (The Beacon) in order to get an extremely good education and to play team sports, exposing myself to a team environment which I think is vital for any child to develop their social skills and a togetherness.

 

Martin`s says "That being a tennis player can be a very lonely world" - Picture by www.lta.org.uk

Martin`s says “Being a tennis player can be a very lonely world” – Picture by www.lta.org.uk

 

My tennis career really started when I was accepted into Reeds school at the age of 12. I was rewarded a 100% scholarship through the funds of David Lloyd who I will be eternally grateful for. I have great memories of Reeds and being a border at such a young age really matured me as a player and person. The combination of both an exceptional tennis program and school set me up with many of the life skills I have to this day. I mentioned earlier about making sure that a child exposes themselves to other sports and a team environment for development is key but an education is essential. Although my parents weren’t as pushy towards my education as they were towards my tennis they made it paramount that I got my GCSE’s and A levels.

Tennis is such a difficult sport that you would be plain stupid not attain an education for back up. Also what being at school gives you is important to everyday life, mingling with “regular” school children is both fun and necessary.

 

 

 

At 16 I moved to Bath in order to further my tennis. I was in a pool of 5 or so players who were the same age and at a similar level. That was key! Both boys and girls who play sport at that age are incredibly competitive with one another be it from being on court to eating a packet of crisps, someone has to win at it!

I was also guided by my current coach’s Ian McDonald (Macca) and Dave Sammel.

Through this set up we all pushed one another in order to be better than the others. We also had two players who were a year older and had played Wimbledon, something that I desperately wanted to achieve, that was also a big motivation.

By the time I was 18 I had won the u18 Masters title, u18 National championships and a few ITF junior titles, I had played Wimbledon, played at the European Championships, represented my country and gained my first professional ATP ranking.

After having won the u18’s national championships (my last junior event) my team and I decided we’d do 3 months in Australia playing the futures events out there. Let me reiterate that, 3 months! A quarter of the year spent in another country at only 18. A few of you might think that’s sounds terrific but believe me it was tough. I’ve never been home sick in my life probably because I’d been travelling to so many countries at such a young age but by the end of the trip I’ve never wanted to be at home so much, infact I had just lost a battle to the number 1 junior in the world, a match that was there to be won but in all honesty I was happy I lost, I even thanked him! I wasn’t wiling to give up just to go home as I’d had such a successful trip reaching #800 in the world a ranking only a hand full of other juniors had achieved.

 

Martin`s explains that "Tennis is such a difficult sport that you would be plain stupid not attain an education for back up that will also give you important to everyday life skills" - Picture by tennis-pronostics.com

Martin`s explains that “Tennis is such a difficult sport that you would be plain stupid not attain an education for back up that will also give you important everyday life skills” – Picture by tennis-pronostics.com

 

Australia was a real test for me both on the court and off the court, I had to be organised myself, booking flights, winning matches in order to cover hotel and food costs (a different type of pressure). After 12 weeks away I had made a profit of $2000, which I was happy with.

That was really the start of my professional career, travelling all over the world to gain ranking points and play a sport I love. I have won a professional title in doubles and made numerous quarter finals and a semi final. I trained on clay for 3 months of the year during both 2012 and 2013 in order to further my skills as a player. Clay is a lot slower than any other surface and so point construction and patience is key. I highly recommend junior players playing on clay however British players will always struggle to do well on clay as it’s not a surface we are brought up on. However like we struggle on clay most Europeans struggle on hard which most of the ATP world tour matches are played on.

I’ve been lucky enough to practise with Nadal, Djokovic, Berdych, Tsonga and Baghdatis. I played at some of the best tournaments and venues in the world most notably Wimbledon, Roland garros, Melbourne and Doha.

Being a tennis player is exceptionally tough but I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world.

With a great team and support around them It’s really up to the individual…

 

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