Tennis Talk: Evan Hoyt
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Evan Hoyt on Wimbledon, his road to recovery and tennis in 2021
Wales’ top male player Evan Hoyt caught up with Tennis Wales this month. We quizzed Evan on his experience’s reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2019, his injury set back in 2020 and his thoughts and plans for tennis in 2021 as the sport continues to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic;
Before we get started, where are you at the moment? Wales, Spain or Portugal and what’s it like where you are with all the Covid-19 restrictions?
I’m in Spain right now, and fortunately I still have the opportunity to progress with my rehab and transition back onto court because gyms and tennis courts have remained open despite restrictions.
So, looking back to 2019 you had an incredible run to the quarter finals of Wimbledon, what was that experience like and what did you learn from the experience?
The experience was certainly unexpected. I didn’t expect to get the opportunity to play doubles, let alone mixed doubles. So, to compete at the all England club in front of a British crowd was unreal. I was definitely nervous and hoped that I had the level to compete with these guys who are experienced grand slam players. Certainly, one of my many learnings and possibly the most important one, is that I have the level to compete in grand slams when I’m at my best. That was hugely encouraging for me. Now I just need to work until my worst level becomes my current best level. Vamos…
We’ve heard there are some perks to making the last 8 club at Wimbledon. Is it true you that are now a member of the last 8 club and what did you receive from the AELTC?
Not as a mixed-doubles quarter finalist. I’ll have to get there in the singles, and then I’ll let you all know what the perks are like in a few years. Haha.
Jumping ahead to 2020, you injured your knee doing yoga. How did the injury occur, how has the rehab been going and where are you now in the process of getting back on court?
I was doing a single leg squat in a yoga class in Portugal in July, and as I got to the bottom of the squat, I heard a few cracks. It wasn’t really painful but I knew something wasn’t quite right when I couldn’t fully straighten my leg afterwards. My surgeon did say that the meniscus was very degenerated, so it likely was the result of it being damaged over a long period of time. I’ve since had 2 surgeries, one was a repair of the meniscus and the next a tidy up job to trim the parts that hadn’t healed. Rehab has been going well over the last couple months and I’ll likely be competing again in April time.
How disappointing was it to miss out on the Battle of the Brits event in London due to injury, and do you think there’ll be more events like that for British players to enjoy in the future?
It certainly looked like a lot of fun and a real great atmosphere to show some mental strength and resilience. Lots of matches, a fair amount of heckling and a priceless opportunity to learn from the top dogs like Andy, Evo, Nozza and Kedders. I definitely would have loved to have been a part of it, but I’m sure there will be more opportunities in the future.
Here we are then, it’s 2021 and the tennis tour is massively disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. What are your hopes and plans for the year ahead and what’s it like trying to plan a schedule with such uncertainty?
I’m just hoping to get back healthy and enjoy travelling and competing again. I think it’s important for me not to have too much expectation when I come back because it takes time to find your competitive groove and also, I’ll almost be starting from scratch ranking wise. So, it’s going to take me a year to build up a proper ranking. In terms of the tour and scheduling, it’s definitely going to be a challenge with all the travel restrictions and changes from week to week. I think it’s important to be ready for plans to change and be more spontaneous with scheduling.
What predictions would you make for the top level of the game in 2021? Could Andy make an impression again? Who are your picks for the Grand Slams? Anyone you think could make a real breakthrough this year in the men’s or women’s game?
I think the next crop of players are really knocking on the door now. I think we’ll see at least one more new grand slam champ this year- whether it’s Zverev, Medvedev, Tsitsipas or even Rublev, who knows. I’d love to see Andy rise up the rankings again, and if anyone can do it, it would be him. I just hope we see a great year of tennis for all because we’ve missed it for large parts of last year.
You can follow Evan Hoyt on social media, find him on YouTube and check out his blog online.
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