May 21st 2016 will go down as one of the most important days of my life. It is the day I officially became the Real Tennis World Champion. It has taken me a while to write this post for many reasons, one of which was that I didn’t know how to put into words what I was feeling.
My dream to become World Champion started when I was 10. I was starting to travel to tournaments and my father asked me what I wanted to do with real tennis. I thought about it for a second and said “I want to be the World Champion.” Since that day, my father as well as many others have helped me in any way possible to accomplish that goal.
When I first challenged in 2008 over my 21st birthday I had no idea what I was in store for over the next 10 years. The emotional rollercoaster of winning and losing matches was almost more than I could take. That mixed with constantly being unsure of what I was supposed to be working on made it feel almost impossible to win the title. Rob Fahey had seemed to figure out all of these things, how to balance work and personal life, how to train properly, even knowing himself enough to form a style of play suited to him. Over the last 10 years I learned these things, one at a time, both by winning and losing, until I was finally able to put it together this year.
Along the way I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the most supportive and caring people I could imagine. They are the ones who help me up when I am down, and at the same time keep me level headed when I may get over-confident.
My Coach, Dacre Stoker, has been a longtime family friend, and has been the most crucial piece in putting my game together over the last few years. Many times he would act as a backboard, hearing out my problems and concerns never complaining. He would then call me back with solutions, that often, required more effort on his part than anyone elses.
My Trainer, Michael Cecchi, only came aboard about a year ago, but in that time has managed to change my game in so many ways. When I approached Mike mid 2015, I had no idea what to expect. he came highly regarded, but I was looking for a very specific training regime. After a short chat with Mike I knew we were on the same page. His dedication to his craft, and willingness to work with me at all hours made me want to push myself.
My training partner, John Lumley, who is also one of the top players in the world, took an incredible amount of time to help me with my game. While working in Philadelphia he would still hit with me 4 hours a day, as well as go to the gym. This would be on top of his normal work day which could include up to 4 lessons a day. This amazing willingness to help made me want to succeed just to show him it was all worth it. I know John will be coming for the title soon enough, and I can’t wait!
My friends and supporters around the world, who have helped me be able to push myself to levels I never knew. They have allowed me to see the world from a different view, and have welcomed me into their homes. They are all my family, and I hope I can welcome them just as they have me in the future.
Finally my family, my mom Chris, my dad Tiger, my sister Ashley, my uncle Scott, and my brother-in-law Max, have given up so much over the past 10 years for me to play this game. They have traveled the world to support me, and have never complained when I came up short. They have never wavered in their belief in me, and that has been the most important piece of my life.
This World Championship is gift from me to all of you, a thank you for everything you have done. I hope you all cherish it as much as I do, and understand that without all of you, it would never have happened.