I can only apologise for how long it has taken me to finally get around to blogging again, life just seems to take over!
Where to start… Good news first! At the beginning of 2018 Jay entered a new exciting partnership with airline Jet2!
At the back end of 2017 he had a fantastic preseason training with David Ferrer and Roberto Bautista Agut (check out his insta – jay.a.clarke ), before sustaining a wrist injury. It threw a real spanner in the works as he would have made the Australian Open Qualifying. Luckily, it wasn’t too serious and he was able to recover with 4 weeks rest. Jay then started his season on the indoor courts of France. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was difficult, Jay drew some big hitters in Dustin Brown and Oscar Otte on a surface that he is not yet comfortable with, but nevertheless, great experience against good opposition.
We as a team, decided that since he hadn’t played many matches to drop back down and play some futures events in Doha on outdoor hard. This would hopefully allow him to play a few more matches and gain some confidence back in his game. The reason we chose Doha was there were 3 tournaments in a row at the same venue, same hotel and they are known for having excellent facilities, as it’s the same venue where they hold the ATP Masters 250 event.
I didn’t travel to Doha with Jay, Curtis (our other bro) and Ian Aylward (Jay’s physical trainer) did and they did a fantastic job together. Ian went to try help Jay maximise his fitness opportunities as well as helping with recovery and nutrition.
Jay started slowly in week one but grew in confidence every match he was out there. In the first week he lost in the semi-finals to Scott Griekspoor, Jay thought he was simply the better player on the day. Two days R&R and Jay was back to it, more confident and that week he went on to make the final. He was actually 6.3 4.2 before going on to lose. This was one of those moments where you can go one way or the other, feel defeated because you were so close or take confidence in the fact you created the opportunity to win the title. It was a combination of the two, obviously Jay was disappointed and as a team it was our job to raise his spirits ready to fight hard again in week 3. We also reassured him that it is completely normal to lose from in front and win from behind, that it will happen again over and over in his career and that you have to accept it and move on. He did just that and in week 3 played some of his best tennis yet going on to take his first title of the year!
From my perspective as a coach and former player you cannot underestimate the power of winning matches at any level. Jay felt one hundred times better having played those events, toughing out matches in three sets when things weren’t going his way, getting broke and breaking back, playing big on the big points and the bottom line, having more time on the match court. I remember speaking with Tim Henman a few years ago in India about how he transitioned from junior to senior. Tim told me in his final year of junior tennis he played over 100 matches, singles and doubles, and that he was a completely different player at the end of the year than from the start. He put it down to the fact he learnt far more on the match court than he ever could on the practice court. It doesn’t work for everyone but it definitely does for Jay. The more matches he has, the better he gets.
Jay is now moving back up to Challenger events on clay. We did the typical ‘tennis player on tour’ 18 hour journey to San Luis Potosi, Mexico where we met up with Esteban Carril. There are definitely worse settings for a tennis tournament…
We have arrived several days early to try combat the jet lag, fatigue, altitude, different balls, change of surface on top of a very warm climate. I will try to keep you more up to date with our trip over the next month and also post some videos that I am in the process of doing for my MPC course.
Wish us good luck!!