I'm back playing tennis & it's great

After five really tough months of struggling with HSP disease. ( Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP) is a disease involving inflammation of small blood vessels.) I got some encouraging news from the consultant at the hospital. All of my symptoms had cleared up and the consultant was very happy that I could return to my normal routines and start focusing on my tennis and school again.

 A happy Sam arriving at Barcelona Tennis Academy.

A happy Sam arriving at Barcelona Tennis Academy.

This past ten weeks I have slowly been building up my time back on the court , working with my coaches Jazzamay Drew and Simon Corbishley on an individual basis. It has not been easy as I felt I was lacking on court stamina, but as the weeks have passed I feel my timing and movement have been improving session by session. Again in this time period, my personal trainer Holly Cook has been great in monitoring me and helping me progress with my core fitness. I have even started to return to group training at Pershore Tennis Centre as part of their Futures Programme. 

 Sam with coach Raphael Maurer (plus his dad) , with Spanish Tutor Ghyslaine and with Nutritionist Edin Sehovic.

Sam with coach Raphael Maurer (plus his dad) , with Spanish Tutor Ghyslaine and with Nutritionist Edin Sehovic.

On the 23 June I flew out to Spain for a six-day training camp at Barcelona Tennis Academy. My programme was headed up by the director Rapheal Maurer. The basis for this camp was to aid my recovery, to regain on court fitness and work on my new one handed backhand. Most importantly it was so that I could prove to myself that I was well again and could commit intensity again to my training. My dad accompanied me on this trip and he even had 10 hours of lessons! He thinks he might be able to beat me one day 😅 !!

 Sam with Antony from Pershore Tennis Centre, and with Viswa & Zalan who he trained with at Barcelona Tennis Academy.

Sam with Antony from Pershore Tennis Centre, and with Viswa & Zalan who he trained with at Barcelona Tennis Academy.

The week was just fantastic, I had a full daily programme, consisting of morning drills and hitting. This was followed by a hour of fitness. I also had two sessions with a nutritionist counsellor called Edin Sehovic. I really connected with him. I learnt about the importance of hydration and nutrition in relation to my tennis and daily life. 

 Sam working on his one handed backhand.

Sam working on his one handed backhand.

Here are some thoughts from Edin on how this can aid a young athlete’s personal development...

  •  “Nutrition and hydration is an often-overlooked key element in athletes’ preparation for performance,” he says.
  • “Performance of all bodily processes is dictated by how well the athlete fuels their body whether by fluids or nutrients, especially with young athletes like Sam. Coming out on the court and burning as many calories as he does,it is critical that Sam is staying hydrated through all of his training sessions and that he is adequately fuelling his body with nutrients to ensure that he can focus when in the classroom, grow and rebuild muscle fibres that are torn during every session in order to continue improving.”

Edin adds: “Learning the differences in how certain nutrients react in the body combined with the intense daily schedules of athletes indicates which nutrition strategies are best for the athlete in order to obtain optimal performance. Monitoring nutrition and hydration opens the door to better physical and mental health and can benefit all, but in terms of sport it can make the difference between a good athlete, and a great athlete and I think we know which Sam would like to become!” (If people are interested in learning more they can contact Edin email: sehovicedin@gmail.com.)

I am going to continue to work with Edin over the coming months, via weekly Skype sessions.

 Sam in action at Barcelona Tennis Academy.

Sam in action at Barcelona Tennis Academy.

In the afternoon’s I got to play matchplays under the watchful eye of the coaches and play different players. This was great to regain my match level and decision-making. I certainly felt my level improved as the week progressed. It was great to play against and train with players from around the world including those from South Africa, Kenya, India, Pakistan, Ireland, Switzerland, England and others. This really made the training camp as good culturally for me as it was for my tennis. It was great also to see my training pal from Pershore, Antony. He was training at a neighbouring academy who were based at the same club.

Towards the end of the week I had some individual lessons to develop my one-handed backhand with Jourdan (the head coach). This helped enormously and I can't wait to take this improvement back to my coaches in the UK.

The other big change I have made recently is to a heavier racket. After spending six weeks trying out different options, I have switched from the Wilson Prostaff 97 LS to the Yonex 98 DR 305g and I have also started to use Yonex Pro Tour Poly 125 strings. I just the love the feel of this new set up and I feel the racket is more forgiving, especially on my one-handed backhand.

The final element of the week was an intense course of Spanish lessons for 2 hours each evening with my tutor Ghyslaine. I hope to keep practicing my Spanish with my friends on future trips or when connecting with them on the PS4! I learnt a lot in these lessons and they really added to my experience at BTA.

I want to say a big thank you to Raphael Maurer and all of his staff at BTA. I truly feel that I am over HSP disease and that I will soon be ready to compete again back in the UK! 

 Sam with the BTA players on a fun fitness trip to the beach.

Sam with the BTA players on a fun fitness trip to the beach.

I look forward to resuming my full programme at Pershore Tennis centre and returning to Barcelona Tennis Academy for another camp later in the year!.

'I have now made a return to LTA competition, the 1st two one day events were tough. It was great to be back out on a competitive court again, I played and competed well, although physically I found it hard especially after the opening matches. I have also completed two intensive training camps with my coach Jazzamay Drew at Pershore Tennis Centre, some further fitness sessions with Holly and have experienced my 1st soft tissue sports massages with Ellen Woodley (ellen@flexback.co.uk). All of which I hope will stand me in good stead going forward. This coming week I am excited to compete in the Hereford & Worcestershire County championships.'

#onwardsandupwards #workhardplayhard

By Samuel Rayner - Follow Sam on Insta under @sam_rayner04 or on Twitter via @Rayner96P