By George Scholes
What is your favourite way to win a point/match?
For me, the most satisfying way is hitting a passing shot – when they have charged the net, are on the offensive and you can hit a passing shot down the line. One of my favourites is also the backhand crosscourt because opponents usually assume that is your weaker side.
What has been your greatest achievement when playing for Hampton?
My greatest achievement, in terms of tournaments: we’ve made it to the semi-finals of the Surrey League Championship a couple times. Usually, when you get to the quarters or semis, you start to face tough boarding schools like Reeds or Seven Oaks, and these guys have all the time in the world to train because they are living on the campus.
What do you like about tennis that puts it above other sports?
Tennis is a highly technical sport. I prefer playing singles because I like to be in control of my fate and turn around the match if I want to. Each match is an emotional rollercoaster, you can be dominating up until the last few games, and then all of a sudden the tables turn. After you win one set, it’s almost like a reset.
When did you start playing?
I started playing when I was 6 years old. I’m originally from the US so there was this local park where I’d play a couple times a week. At the age of 8, I actually went to train at this academy. To be really good at tennis, you have to play several times a week; I think at this point I was playing 5-6 times per week.
Who is your favourite professional player?
It’s always been (Roger) Federer, but of course he’s retired now. I think I’d have to go with Novak Djokovic, and I know how lots of people don’t like how he comes across as, maybe, not the friendliest guy and a bit arrogant, but I feel like his athleticism is unrivalled.
How much do you train/play per week?
Right now, I play 2-3 times per week; Tuesday, training after school; Games on Wednesdays and on weekends I try to play a friendly match or a club match. So not as much as I used to play.
What is the biggest challenge about tennis compared to other sports?
Stamina, mental stamina, to get through a whole match and the ups and downs, just getting through that. But also the barrier to entry, you need to start young to compete at a high level.
What tips would you give to younger pupils at Hampton, wanting to improve at tennis?
Just keep playing as much as possible, but try and compete. Quite a lot of people spend lots of time in training but don’t compete. When there’s something at stake, it’s a different game. For beginners, just learn how to hit topspin, when people start hitting the ball harder, you need that to control the ball.