From an early-onset Parkinson’s diagnosis to an inspirational return to tennis and beyond – the incredible journey of Andy Wright.
After being diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 33, Nottingham-local Andy Wright never thought he would be able to play tennis again.
Six-years after his diagnosis, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) has released a short film documenting how Andy rediscovered his love for the sport and the physical benefits he has experienced since getting back on court.
Following a car accident in his early 30s, which left him with whiplash injuries, doctors noticed that something was holding back Andy’s recovery. It was after subsequent treatments and a brain scan, that he received the news that would change his life forever.
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Until that point in his life Andy had been a tennis fanatic, playing competitively during his time at university and going on to become a coach. But in the years following his diagnosis, he gave up the game when he started to notice more physical limitations.
“It changed every aspect of mine and my family’s life from then on. It was a lot to take in at 33 with a young family. My reaction was to stop playing, if I couldn’t progress and improve, I didn’t want to play and see my game deteriorate so I walked away.”
During his time away from the game, Andy took up a voluntary position at Flo Skate Park in Nottingham and it was here, thanks to his close friend Tristan Hessing, he made his first steps back on court.
Andy now competes regularly in his local tennis league at Vernon Park tennis courts – through the LTA programme offering friendly, competitive tennis in communities across the UK – and recently finished as the runner-up in a strong field of local players.
In the film Andy recalls what it was like returning to tennis after a long absence and how staying active is benefiting his condition.
“I learned a lot about managing my Parkinson’s over a full singles match; at the start I couldn’t feel my feet and was incredibly stiff but as I loosened up I found that I got into it and was pleased to get three games in each set from a strong opponent.
“I often say to people that I feel most normal when I’m on a tennis court, which is kind of cheesy but I genuinely do. At some point today I’m going to struggle to walk the distance to my car but when I’m on a tennis court I can run, move, serve and jump.
“I’ve realised sport doesn’t have to be competitive,” he said. “There’s something for everyone that can make you feel good and have fun.”
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Having supported the programme for a number of years, the LTA acquired Local Tennis Leagues earlier this year as part of its strategy to open up tennis and grow the game in public park courts.
The national governing body hopes to take the programme to more park sites across Britain and create mass participation in grassroots competitive tennis. Since 2005, over 20,000 people have played across an expansive network of local tennis leagues in the UK.
Watch Andy’s full feature on IGTV, Facebook and YouTube and keep up to date on all the latest Play Your Way activity on the LTA social channels.
The acquisition of local tennis leagues and the strategic drive to grow participation in tennis across park courts, go hand-in-hand with the Play Your Way campaign, launched by the LTA earlier this summer to remind people how accessible the sport is.
To find out more about local tennis leagues and sign up to a league near you, visit www.localtennisleagues.com
British No 1 Dan Evans searching for a new mentor after his coach Mark Hilton decides to return to working for the Lawn Tennis Association
Hilton had helped the 30 year-old Midlander to reach the world’s top thirty
But he has opted to go back to the security of working for the governing body
Evans ended a mini losing streak at the European Open in Antwerp on Tuesday
British No 1 Dan Evans has split with coach Mark Hilton after asking him to choose between working for him or the Lawn Tennis Association.
Hilton, who had helped the 30 year-old Midlander to reach the world’s top thirty, has opted to go back to the security of the governing body, leaving the country’s top male player to search for a new mentor.
Evans has already been on the lookout, and contacted veteran Australian Chris Johnstone to do a trial alongside him for his stay Down Under over Christmas and January.
Dan Evans emphasised his split from coach Mark Hilton after 12 months was ‘amicable’
Johnstone is a former player who has worked with some high quality men and women in the past, such as South African Wayne Ferreira and American Gigi Fernandez, but has yet to commit.
Evans, who ended a mini losing streak on Tuesday by beating Italian Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of the European Open in Antwerp, finds himself in a situation which would not happen in many tennis nations.
Hilton has the relative luxury of being able to fall back on a job with the wealthy LTA, who will now find him a position among the many coaches they employ.
‘There was a secondment agreement and I didn’t want to carry that on,’ said Evans, who emphasised that they parted amicably.
Coach Hilton (right) had helped the 30 year-old Midlander to reach the world’s top thirty
‘It’s not an easy decision, he has family, maybe he didn’t want to travel so much, I don’t know,’ said Evans, who emphasised that they parted amicably. ‘ The job which he will go back into with the LTA is maybe not so stressful.
‘There’s a good deal of security there working for the governing body and maybe a few months down the line he thought he might have got sacked.. I put him in a difficult position asking him to do that.’
Cam Norrie also won his first round, beating Finland’s Emil Ruusuvouri 6-3 7-6, at an event which has seen British winners for the past two years in Kyle Edmund and Andy Murray.
Rafael Nadal has raised hopes that he will play at London’s 02 Arena next month in the ATP Finals by committing to play the indoor Paris Masters event at the start of next month.
After winning Roland Garros for the thirteenth time the 34 year-old Spaniard raised the prospect of packing in his season, especially as players will be heading to Australia in mid-December to do a two-week quarantine before being able to embark on tournaments there.
To his credit – and unlike some of the top women – he has resisted the temptation to finish the year early and is now likely to join the eight-man field in London’s Docklands.
Sportsmail understands that the ATP Tour has received assurances from the government that the year-end event will still go ahead behind closed doors, even if the capital is plunged into maximum Tier Three restrictions due to the Covid crisis.
Rafael Nadal will return to the French capital for the Paris Masters, beginning on November 2.
The world No 2, who won his 20th Grand Slam title at the French Open earlier this month, has decided to prolong his season despite saying earlier this month that he was unsure whether he would be back on a match court in 2020.
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It’s indoor season time… this picture was earlier today practicing at the @rnadalacademy … And yes… getting ready for #ParisBercy 😉💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/SajEB4JMEW
But Nadal posted a picture on Twitter on Tuesday of him training indoors at his academy in Mallorca and the accompanying message revealed he will play at the final Masters tournament of the season.
The Spaniard wrote: “It’s indoor season time… this picture was earlier today practicing at the @rnadalacademy… And yes… getting ready for #ParisBercy.”
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Nadal’s appearance in Paris also makes it much more likely that he will take his place at the ATP Finals, which is being held in London for the final time.
It is the biggest title the 34-year-old has never won and, by playing indoors, he has the chance to put some pressure on Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings.
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‘I’m going to need weeks to learn how to be a celebrity!’ French Open champion Iga Swiatek on her newfound fame in Poland, fulfilling a lifelong ‘dream’ at Roland Garros and the importance of her education beyond the world of tennis
Iga Swiatek did not drop a set on her way to winning the women’s singles in Paris
The new French Open champion spoke to Sportsmail about her brilliant run
The 19-year-old insists she now wants to go on and win all four Grand Slams
But Swiatek says that she may even go to university in the coming years
For Iga Swiatek, one week after becoming the first Pole to win a Grand Slam singles title following a flawless run at Roland Garros, newfound national stardom is set to become the norm.
Fortunately, a level-headedness way beyond her 19 years means she is all too aware of the sudden spurt in popularity and not only has the maturity to deal with it, but thrive in it.
‘It’s been crazy in Poland,’ she tells Sportsmail. ‘I’ve had loads of media coverage, I’ve been on TV Shows and on Wednesday I was on air from 9am to 9pm!
Iga Swiatek became Poland’s first singles Grand Slam winner after her French Open triumph
The 19-year-old stormed through the field to win the women’s singles without dropping a set
‘I can finally get my thoughts together and I can finally believe I’ve won a Grand Slam. I’m getting more and more popular so I’m still trying to get used to that. I’m going to need a few weeks to learn how to be a celebrity so it’s a new experience for me, it’s such a unique time.’
Unique would be the appropriate word, not just for Swiatek’s life post-Paris, but throughout the autumn fortnight on the clay. Starting the tournament unseeded, ranked 54 in the world, the teenager brutally dismantled every opponent placed in front of her with exemplary ingenuity and professionalism, not dropping a set along the way.
This was not just a case of a draw falling into place for the teenager either. Far from it in fact.
From round one, when she beat last year’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova, to the fourth round when she conceded a mere three games to event favourite Simona Halep, Swiatek’s level of play reached new meteoric heights match-by-match.
By the final, when Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin stood in her way, the Pole’s swashbuckling all-court game was close to unbeatable. For the loss of just 28 games over seven matches, the 19-year-old goes down as the lowest ranked French Open women’s champion in history.
‘The pressure was really high but I was playing great tennis – my level was so good that I could live with anyone,’ Swiatek says, shortly after arriving back in her native Poland.
The Pole was ranked 54 at the beginning of the tournament but her ranking now stands at 17
Swiatek dropped just three games in the fourth round against 2018 champion Simona Halep
‘I wasn’t expecting that result. Even If I was playing my best tennis I thought I’d be able to reach the final at a maximum, but that was also shocking to me. I’m really glad that my tennis simply clicked at the French Open.’
Unusually, Swiatek’s singles performance did not dip despite involvement in the women’s doubles either, where alongside partner Nicole Melichar they reached the semi-finals.
Using her finesse at the net to her advantage while riding solo too, was playing doubles a stroke of genius as the tournament unfolded?
‘It had a pretty good impact because I had a match every day and I was able to keep my routine,’ Asics athlete Swiatek says.
‘My head was always in match-mode – I actually thought it would make me more tired but I felt really good on the court. It helped me to develop my volleys and approach play too, so I definitely think it was good to take doubles seriously.’
Swiatek also reached the semi-finals of the women’s doubles with American Nicole Melichar
The daughter of an Olympic rower, with her father competing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, sporting prowess comes naturally in the Swiatek family. Though it was late in the day, her father and her sister were there to witness the historic moment on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
‘It was pretty emotional for him [my father] and I’m really glad he was able to watch my final match because usually he stays at home.
‘The final was so special that he had to be there. My sister also came to Paris so it was amazing to have the most important people there supporting me.
Those closest to her would be wise in emphasising calmness and stability now, with the fanfare surrounding her triumph making her something of a national hero already. But that shouldn’t be necessary – Swiatek transmits an aura of sophistication and appreciates the bigger picture, not just in her tennis career but her life in general.
Swiatek will train at Cambridge University later this year with British coach Nick Brown
After resting in the short-term, the 19-year-old will train at Cambridge University before the year is out under the tutelage of British coach and former Davis Cup player Nick Brown, who has acted as a mentor for the Pole thus far.
Perhaps not Cambridge, but continuing her education at university – to study psychology – is something Swiatek refuses to rule out despite her recent ascension up the rankings.
‘School was basically my priority until I was 16 and I think it’s important to focus on other things other than tennis,’ she explains.
‘If I focused just on tennis it would all be too hard and I wouldn’t have the energy at all. I still need to decide whether I’m going to go to university or not – right now I’m not sure it’s possible but maybe after I finish my career?’
The 19-year-old has faced numerous media commitments since her arrival back in Poland
As for her progress on-court, Swiatek is now looking to consolidate her top-notch form for an extended period of time, something first-time major winners such as Jelena Ostapenko have struggled with in recent years.
‘My main goal now is to be consistent and to experience the top-10 of the rankings for a long period of time,’ Swiatek states. ‘I struggle with consistency but my long-term goal and dream is of course to win all four Grand Slam.
‘Actually I felt it was a little bit more like a dream than a goal… but it’s not a dream anymore after I’ve won the French Open!’
Wimbledon WILL go ahead next year with or without fans and optimistic tournament chiefs are planning for FULL CAPACITY despite coronavirus still keeping crowds away
Wimbledon will take place next year even if it is to be staged behind closed doors
The Championships were cancelled this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic
In response, plans have been drawn up to make sure the tournament goes ahead
Wimbledon is set to go ahead next year even if the tournament has to be staged behind closed doors.
The Championships was cancelled this summer for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic and the All England Club is planning for several scenarios for 2021.
Chief executive Sally Bolton said: ‘Staging the Championships in 2021 is our number one priority and we are actively engaged in scenario planning in order to deliver on that priority.’
Wimbledon will take place next year even if fans are not allowed to return to SW19
This year’s cancellation saw Novak Djokovic denied the chance to defend his singles title
The AELTC is developing plans for a full-capacity tournament – which appears highly unlikely – a reduced-capacity event as well as one held with no fans.
Wimbledon will have been closely watching the recent US Open, played behind closed doors, and the French Open, where 1,000 fans a day were eventually admitted, down from a hoped-for 11,500.
Both tournaments were deemed overall successes, with very few positive Covid-19 cases and broad player support.
Another major factor for Wimbledon is the AELTC will now be unable to secure pandemic insurance, which was prudently put in place a number of years ago and ensured losses from this year’s cancelled tournament were minimised.
Former Great Britain Davis Cup player Jamie Baker, meanwhile, has been appointed head of professional tennis and tournament director and will take on the role of liaising with the player community, ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation over Wimbledon’s plans.
The scheduled start of the Wimbledon championships is for June 28 next year
Wimbledon’s statement read: ‘Our overriding priority will continue to be the health and safety of all of our stakeholders, in particular our guests, our staff, and our competitors.
‘We are working closely with the relevant government and public health authorities, alongside the rest of the sports industry, to understand the varying challenges and opportunities presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.’
Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray supports the decision to hold the tournament next year, following the success of other majors like the French Open and Australian Open.
‘I would like to see Wimbledon go ahead regardless of whether there are fans or not,’ Murray said, after his French Open first-round defeat by Stan Wawrinka.
‘But we’ll see what they decide. I think the events that have gone on so far, the ones I’ve been involved in, have been pretty successful.
But two-times winner Andy Murray has recently called for the championships to take place
‘I guess it would be up to the fans. If the fans are enjoying watching it and they are getting good TV ratings, then that would suggest people would still like to see tennis and watch the major events.
‘For a player, it is not the same without fans, but I’d still way rather be playing the event than not, that’s for sure.’
Wimbledon has been working closely with the club’s local communities during the pandemic and will continue to provide 200 hot meals a day to people in need.
More than £750,000 has been donated to local and national charities and organisations while 30,000 of the famous Wimbledon towels that were intended to be used for the 2020 tournament have been donated towards other causes, including refugee projects and support for the homeless.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — U.S. tennis player Sam Querrey was placed in isolation by Russian authorities after testing positive for the coronavirus but left the country on a private plane, organizers of the St. Petersburg Open said Thursday.
The tournament said Querrey and his wife tested positive Sunday, the day before main draw play started. They had tested negative on arrival in Russia four days earlier. He was withdrawn from the competition, and the family was asked to isolate together at a hotel.
In a statement, the tournament said Querrey did not open the door to doctors who came to examine the family on Monday, saying his baby son was sleeping, and the family then left the hotel before a second scheduled examination the next day.
“Sam Querrey, as the hotel’s security cameras identified, left the hotel together with his family at 5:45 a.m. on Oct. 13 without informing the reception service. As Querrey told an ATP representative, he left Russia with his family on a private plane,” the tournament said, citing information from the ATP Tour.
The ATP said it was investigating an incident at the tournament but did not name Querrey.
“The ATP is aware of an incident regarding a player’s serious breach of protocol relating to COVID-19 at this week’s St. Petersburg Open,” the tour said. “Adhering to health and safety protocols is critical to ensure events take place safely and within the guidelines established by local authorities. Players and their support team members are reminded that breaches of protocol can jeopardize an event’s ability to operate and have repercussions on the rest of the Tour. In accordance with ATP’s Code of Conduct, we are taking this matter extremely seriously and an investigation is underway.”
There was no immediate comment from a spokesperson for Querrey, who is ranked 49th in the world.
Mixing tennis with a global pandemic just got even more wild.
Amid quarantine bubbles and Novak Djokovic’s disastrous Adria Tour, the sport has endured a rocky ride in its bid to restart but Sam Querrey’s response after testing positive to COVID-19 takes the cake.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg detailed the series of events that saw Querrey flee Russia on a private jet with his family after contracting coronavirus.
The ATP released a statement this morning saying it was aware of a player’s “serious breach of protocol” and is “taking this matter extremely seriously and an investigation is underway”.
The governing body didn’t name Querrey but the American star was soon revealed to be the player at the centre of the investigation, and Rothenberg exposed the juicy details of the saga.
Querrey, who travelled to Russia with his wife Abby and their eight-month-old son Ford, was scheduled to play Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the St Petersburg Open. However, before the ATP 500 tournament kicked off, Querrey tested positive for COVID-19 — as did Abby and Ford.
As a result the trio were told to quarantine at their hotel, the luxurious five-star St Petersburg Four Seasons, for 14 days. But then a spanner was thrown into the works.
“Sam received an unexpected call from someone with the Russian health authorities who said that the family would be visited by a doctor, and if they were found to have symptoms they could be forced to be hospitalised,” Rothenberg reported on Twitter.
“The Querreys, who were experiencing what they considered mild symptoms, feared any or all being hospitalised in Russia, especially so given that they were travelling with their eight-month-old son, from whom they did not want to be potentially separated in a foreign country.
“So Sam, who has worn patches from a private jet sponsor during some of the bigger matches in his career … arranged and paid for a private jet to whisk the family across the Russian border, away from the health authority’s reach.
“Sitting in the back of their hired jet so as to keep as distant as possible from pilots, the Querreys were delivered to what is only being described as ‘a nearby European country’ which didn’t require a negative test for entry.”
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Querrey and wife Abby didn’t want to risk being separated from their son.Source:Getty Images
Rothenberg reported the Querreys are staying at an Air BnB in the unknown country, and they don’t intend to reveal their whereabouts.
The ATP said Querrey’s actions could “jeopardise an event’s ability to operate and have repercussions on the rest of the tour”, and the world No. 49 is facing disciplinary action.
Per the ATP, a breach of COVID-19 regulations may be deemed a violation of the code of conduct under the “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” section of the rulebook. If the infringement is severe enough, it may fall under the “Major Offence of Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game” section.
Violating the latter can result in a player being significantly fined or even banned for years.
“If the ATP deem Sam Querrey’s protocol breach a major offence and possibly injurious to the tour, which is what their email implies, he could be fined up to $100k and/or suspended from the ATP for a period of up to three years,” tennis writer for The Guardian, Tumaini Carayol, wrote on Twitter.
Unsurprisingly, the tennis world was stunned by the revelations involving Querrey.
American sports writer Adam Zagoria wrote of Rothenberg’s reporting: “This whole thread on Sam Querrey and his family fleeing Russia after testing positive for COVID is pretty wild.”
Carayol tweeted: “The past six months of tennis during this pandemic are undefeated.”
Commentator Jose Morgado responded to Rothenberg’s threat with wide-eyes emojis, tennis writer Nikhila Makker tweeted “big yikes” and journalist Carole Bouchard wrote: “Sam Querrey did what!? Really??”
Querrey’s involvement in future tournaments is up in the air.Source:Getty Images
Andy Murray was left frustrated after a first-round defeat to Fernando Verdasco in Cologne on Tuesday night as the struggles of his latest comeback continued.
Murray is desperately seeking fresh momentum after winning three of seven matches since the ATP Tour resumed in August.
Two of those wins – including his best victory this year over German world No. 7 Alexander Zverev – came in his first tournament back at the relocated Western & Southern Open in New York, while there was a famous five-set fightback in the first round of the US Open against Yoshihito Nishioka.
Since then, however, there has been little to smile about for the former world No. 1.
He has suffered three defeats on the spin to Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open, Stan Wawrinka at the French Open and Spain’s Verdasco in Cologne.
In the wake of his loss to Wawrinka – the joint worst Grand Slam defeat of his career – Murray said he would have a ‘long, hard think’ but little improved from his perspective in a 6-4 6-4 defeat to Verdasco.
‘I need to get back to playing my game on the court, I’ve kind of gone away from that a little bit,’ said Murray after losing to the 36-year-old world No. 62 from Spain.
‘I’m maybe making a few more mistakes than usual because of that.
‘I need to practice, I need to play matches and physically I need to get better.
‘Some things I did a little bit better, but overall it was not that much better than that match [against Stan Wawrinka in Paris].
‘It’s a surface that I’m a little bit more comfortable on, so that probably helped me. But in terms of my game, it was not much better.’
Cologne is hosting back-to-back tournaments. Asked if he would stick around for the second one, Murray replied: ‘I will speak to my team tonight, and see what they say, but the plan is to play here next week. Over the next few days I can hopefully get some practice in.’
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