Following coming second a the Nationals, Max is now 3rd in the UK! What a simply fantastic achievement! We are so proud of you Max!!
Max at the Nationals!
Lots of our members and juniors will know Max! He’s not the biggest guy and at aged 9 he currently plays in the U10 age category (Green Ball!). Max has an older brother Cooper who trains in squads and you’ll often see Cooper hitting with Max to help him get his practice in. You will also often see his mum hitting with him at the weekends too!
On Thursday last week, Max attended regional training which was held in Bristol, we were a bit wary that having a full day regional camp, before travelling to Corby for the Nationals, was not ideal but we didn’t talk about it too much!
Then off to the U10 Nationals in Corby
Max’s grandparents live less than an hour from Corby so he was able to get some home cooked food and rest before playing Friday and Saturday! He didn’t go in with huge expectations, the goal was to enjoy competing at this level and to use his big forehand as much as he could! He has played at two National level tournaments before, competing in the U9s and he did well, but he was going to be happy making it out of his box, as the level of all the U10 boys was impressive.
To ensure Max could get maximum sleep after the regional camp, we decided that I (Elly) would do a warm up with him in the car park. This included a physical warm up, hitting some balls in the wind and then we found a good wall to hit and he found some rhythm. He didn’t participate in the mass warm up, as for him relaxing and being away from the intensity is usually best.
Max played his three box matches – the first set of the tournament he lost 4 – 0, but sitting watching we knew he could do it! It was only a few shots that had missed the line. He was then 5 – 2 down in the 3rd set 10 point tie-break and stayed calm, believed in himself and came back to win it 10 – 5 against a tough opponent. I think this win really gave him belief for the rest of the tournament! The second match was just as tough but Max had settled and played brilliant tennis. His third match was slightly more straight forward, but he had to really focus on the task in hand. He came out top of his box and qualified for the main draw!
On Friday, once the boxes were completed, Max had a two hour break before the 1st round of the main draw. Not an easy one to manage when you are 9 years old but typical of tennis tournaments. The break was good for him to learn to deal with the unknowns about when you will be on for your next match. He was very good and checked in with the referee and kept an eye on scores on the courts he would be on.
In the main draw round of 16, it’s the top two of each box who go through to the forward part of the tournament and out of the 32 draw they battle for their places! This 4th match of the day was important to Max, we could tell he was tired but he played really sensibly, played important points very well and had a convincing win. The match finished at 5pm after an 8.30am start so it was straight off to his grandparents for some rest and an early night.
Saturday came and Max looked a bit fresher! We discussed that it may be good to hit some balls in the mass warm up as the weather outside wasn’t as nice and good to cope with being around everyone and the mixed energies all the players were giving off. I was on court with him making sure he felt really relaxed. His quarter final was against a big hitter, it was close throughout and he did exceptionally well to get the win – into the semi finals!
Max was taking one match at a time and not getting phased at all about the stage in the competition which shows great maturity. He took on his semi final against a very strong player again, he knew it would be tough and he was also feeling pretty exhausted mentally. He stayed calm, he played his game, he stepped up when he needed to and managed to control his emotions…and got the win!
In his more tired state Max had started losing a bit on confidence in his topspin second serve which is a new skill he has been developing – but he knew he had to get on with it. We talked after the match that when anyone is tired its easier to find little things to get frustrated with – again he showed so much maturity in taking this on board!
The final was fairly quick to follow his semi final. He of course had another tough opponent ranked 6th in the country, both boys had their South West training camp on the Thursday and both looked like they were giving their all, but they didn’t have much left in the tank! Max battled hard in the first set losing it only in a tie break and then couldn’t quite muster up the energy to push the match to a third set, meaning he came 2nd.
Second place at U10 Nationals for Max – what an incredible performance!!!
I wanted to share this stand out experience and performance, because Max isn’t all about the show, he goes about his training quietly, he loves his peers at the club, he’s willing to put in the extra time to practice with his mum and brother and he always appreciates the opportunities he is given.
We are SO proud of all of the children in our program, who are on their competition journeys and I hope that Max can inspire others! I think we will be seeing others in our squads at these national tournaments in the next six months, and I hope we can share their stories as well to help motivate the younger players!