By Jack Edward
It all started 18 years ago.
My mum dropped me off in Stamperland, a suburb on the outskirts of Glasgow, to try my hand at tennis for the first time. I picked up my racket, set foot on the blaes courts (Scotland’s finest version of clay) and started hitting a few balls.
The feelings it inspired in me… Tedium. Indifference. Disinterest.
Who in their right mind would want to hit a wee yellow ball back and forth all day?
So, em, yeah, sorry, let’s start again. I was never forced into loving tennis – instead, our relationship grew naturally due to the irresistible charm of Andy Murray.
It all started 10 years ago. My mum gifted me a ticket to a Davis Cup tie at Braehead Arena with the caveat that we supported Andy from start to finish.
The speed of the ball. The atmosphere. The swearing. It was an entrancing spectacle that inspired me to get out there and do it myself.
From there, playing and Andy became an addiction. I’d get myself down to the tennis club to knock that wee yellow ball back and forth three or four times a week – the thrill of saving a match point, the adrenaline rush of nailing a forehand down the line, the competition, the community, all of it constantly drawing me back for more.
As for the Andy addiction – well, who could keep their eyes off of Andy over the next few years? Stomaching a heartbreaking Wimbledon loss was quickly rewarded with a jaw-dropping Olympic gold medal followed swiftly by a stroke-inducing US Open title. I remember being in a wee pub in Barcelona when Andy won Wimbledon (seemingly the only Scots for miles going by our unreciprocated celebrations), going mental court-side when Andy lobbed Goffin in Belgium (that’s me below doing the cheesy thumbs up), staying up late at a bar in Krakow to watch Andy win his second Olympic title and sitting in court 2 watching Andy dispatch Milos on the big screen in 2016 – so much adventure tied to the dour Scot’s crowning achievements!
Perhaps Andy started as a love born of nationalism rather than his tennis but it became clear to me I’d backed the right horse… Andy’s story is legendary: in the Golden Era of tennis, when the three greatest players of all time ruled their respective surfaces, a mere mortal from Dunblane cussed and scrapped his way to world #1, cementing his own spot among tennis’s elite.
It’s all those memories of David beating Goliath that are eternally etched into my memories, that will always inspire and motivate me to reach for more.
So that’s how it all started. Whether I was playing or watching, tennis had become a part of me – so last year, I accepted my fate, quitting my job in engineering to pursue my passion. I’m working hard to get a blog and podcast off the ground, never forgetting my roots by imbuing my work with stats and analyses aplenty. I keep myself afloat by coaching some kids, a gig I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted.
I absolutely love it.
Sure, there are times where me and tennis haven’t gotten on (I still can’t serve for taffy). Sure, being an Andy fan nowadays is frustrating at the best of times. But there’s never any use in me denying it – this sport means so much to me!
Hopefully it shines through in my work.