Confessions of an ageing tennis player: Gutted. Roasted. Fuming.

You would have thought after all I have done – my surprise wild card entry to Wimbledon this year; my subsequent tussle for recognition with the guys in the locker room; my ‘back-to-the-wall’ heroic endeavours against the forces of bureaucratic inertia; my radical stance against Hawkeye, BBGs and the state of the grass; and ultimately the fact that I beat Novak Djokovic to become the first Englishman to win the Wimbledon Champions Final of 2013 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club – you would have thought I would have merited at least a nomination in our club’s Sports Personality of the Year Competition of the Year.

YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT!

You would have thought – having brought fame and recognition to our modest club; new generations of enthusiastic bright bushy tailed young tennis things to our courts; and sponsorship in the order of tens of pounds – you would have thought that the committee, in all its puffed up glory and self-importance, would have said to itself:

“Fair play. The boy done good. We shall take the extraordinary step of awarding him a special nomination that reflects his tremendous achievements.”

But no. No such recognition is forthcoming.

I’m not disappointed about not receiving a nomination from the ordinary members – not in the least.

I understand how bitter and cynical and envious and aghast many of them felt at seeing my almost superhuman achievements over the summer. Their lack of respect for me now is a shame – but understandable. I would act in exactly the same way as them if I saw one of my peers plucked from middle-aged obscurity to a glistening future of signing tennis shorts, being interviewed by Russell Brand (my God, I was funny) and whining and dining with the likes of Princess Margot of Luxembourg and The Sheikh of Araby.

But the committee? They should know better and so are worthy of my most bilest of bile.

This is why.

As well as passively sitting back and just watching votes drift through their letterbox as and when the voter decides to pass by and exert their democratic duty, they have instituted an absolutely mind-boggling approach to local democracy. No longer is it enough, apparently, for the democratic process to be seen to be working. It must also be seen to be in need of repair, given that it is so obviously broken.

To this end, votes are not just added up and counted, they are judged and assessed by the committee members for their appropriateness. According to the committee, voters are clearly short of a few bob when it comes to their stocks of common sense in the voting department. They evidently need guidance as to who vote for. And if they don’t make the right decision, then they need to have their vote adjusted to reflect what they really meant to say.

Not only that, but as well as being advised (or, dare I say, instructed) by the committee burghers to vote for the candidate of the burghers’ choice, we are also being instructed to vote for a candidate OF THE OPPOSITE SEX – even if we have never come across any lady tennis players – or football players or rugby players or indeed any other activity which the Club deems to be sports like – in our time at the club.

This is like Robert Mugabe insisting that I vote for his third cousin twice removed just because she happens to wield a mean lacrosse stick.

And to cap it all – and this is the final straw that made me realise that Russell Brand is not a pouting show off with a mouth bigger than my tennis racket but a genuine democrat who has the health and wealth of this country at heart in all his media endeavours – the Committee, heaven help us, have decreed that voting shall be done in full view of all the committee members, AND instead of using a short stubby pencil as is usual in the Western Democratic process, we shall use our blood to mark an X on the ballot paper!

Rigged ballots? Directed voting? A mandate forged in blood?

These are not the signs of a healthy amateur tennis club but a wicked, corrupt and financially wayward nation who’s last four letters end in -STAN.

I have, needless to say, submitted my resignation from this once glorious community resource. They may well have spurned me at the Annual General Meeting as well as the Dinner Dance, Gentlemen’s Evening and subsequent Sports Personality of the Year but I am not bitter, not in any way, shape or form. Not a wit, not a jot. NA-DAL.

Speaking of which: Rafa has just called me for a game of mixed doubles with ladies from the tennis club across the park. I shall be delighted to join him and his grown up compatriots and shall look to impart my wisdom hewn from the rocks of my 2013 Wimbledon’s Men’s Finals experience to their eager youth team.

I already sense a return visit to that august institution in 2014.

 

(You might like to know that you can follow Andy Murray’s journey to fame and infamy in the recently published, ‘Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player’ on Amazon.  You can see it here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!)

Confessions of an ageing tennis player: I AM Andy Murray and have beaten Roger Federer (albeit vicariously)

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The crowds gather early to get the best seating.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you all. I can’t believe that this afternoon has ended in such a thrilling style, with so many decisive moments, nerve tingling decisions, and life changing choices.

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Novak Djokovic thinking he’s got this one sorted.

Novi was an incredible opponent this afternoon, but I agree with him when he says the best man won (i.e. me).

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The disgraceful state of Wimbledon grass led to many early exits.

So, congratulations to him for putting up such a spirited fight, and congratulations to me for pulling out all the stops and astounding everyone.

While now is not the time to crow, it is worth remembering those who fell at an early stage during the competition and for the valuable contribution blah… blah… blah… they have made to the upper echelons of the tennis fraternity.

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Rafa Nadal still hasn’t come to terms with what hit him this year.

So, here we can remember the likes of Rafa (N), the Pole, Maria Sharapova and of course my mentor, leader and nemesis, Roger (F) – all as you can see at the peak of their physical prowess.

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Maria Shaparova is still smarting from the injury caused to her by the courts.

But holding the trophy aloft will stay in my memory for the rest of my life and I would like to finally thank you all, my supporters, my coach, my advocates and my enemies for the encouragement you have given me or the motivation which has spurred me on to prove you all wrong. This year’s Wimbledon has proven to me that anything is possible, with the right attitude, guts, determination, and fertile imagination.

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Victory is sweet: holding the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Championship trophy aloft.

My club, my tennis, my world, will never be the same again!

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Next year’s Wimbledon already beckons.

 

(You might like to know that you can follow Andy Murray’s journey to fame and infamy in the recently published, ‘Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player’ on Amazon.  You can see it here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an ageing tennis player: the Real Andy Murray Story.

Prologue: one day I will play Roger Federer and beat Him.

When I was younger I used to watch the tennis on the TV and especially the guys like McEnroe, Borg and Nastase. Round about Wimbledon time, my brother Alex and I would play a kind of tennis out on our grandfather’s lawn. I would take on the role of John McEnroe and he would enact Jimmy Connors. I would invariably win as I was fourteen and he was eleven. It was all to do with our ages and nothing to do with the fact that I had a proper tennis racket and he had a wobbly piece of cardboard.

All the players we watched were whatever age they were, Alex was the age he was and I was the age I was. Back then, tennis proficiency was all about age. I thought that the pros were pros because they were just a bit older than me, but I could see a time when I would be a bit older and be able to play them at Wimbledon.

As I’ve gotten older, that vision hasn’t faded. I still watch tennis, see these young athletes play their hearts out and still think, one day when I’m older I shall be playing them at Wimbledon and probably beating them. Trouble is, whilst I seem to have gotten older during that time, the tennis players have gotten younger. At this rate I shall be 80 and still aiming to play the young bucks who will become the Federers of their generation.

However, as I’ve gotten older, it’s become clearer that proficiency in tennis is not all about age. It’s clear that one’s tennis prowess isn’t what it might be and that for all the manuals, online tutorials and shouty motivational websites there is nothing available for the tennis player of a certain age that can help propel them and their game into a different league and help bring their dreams to fruition.

This book aims to address that gap.

Part one offers you a veritable cornucopia of playing tips and tricks which will help you deal with all sorts of opponents of all sorts of sizes and shapes, playing all kind of strange shots in the oddest of circumstances.

Part two shows you how to apply those skills and strategies to go on and win a major international tennis tournament. And I should know, because that’s exactly what I did at Wimbledon in July 2013.

Impressed? You will be.

Part three offers excellent advice on how to deal with the media interest and the furore around becoming an international tennis superstar and Sports Personality of the Year to boot. This is not for the faint hearted.

My book though is not just for aspirant tennis players of a certain or any age: it is for everyone who has suffered at the hands of pomposity or institutional inertia and feels that the traditional English values of fair play, a stiff upper lip and self-deprecation are lacking in many areas of our public life. With this in mind, part four offers some hard fought wisdom about how to deal with the Machiavellian politics of the sports club – and by extension our Great British society as a whole. But having said that, sat where I am these days, dear reader, Britain is not as ‘Great’ as it might like to think it is. But all will be revealed as you read on.

In the meantime, let us follow the tradition of tennis clubs around the world and start our adventure together with these immortal words: Play On! Love All!

(Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player is now available on Amazon here and is available in both an e-book and paperback formats.)