Life inside the US Open bubble with Dom Inglot

30/08/2020

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Former world No.18 and member of the 2015 winning GB Davis Cup team, Dom Inglot speaks to the LTA from life inside the “bubble” as he prepares to play his 32nd career Grand Slam tournament.

Life in the bubble

I arrived here Tuesday before the Western & Southern Open in the hopes we might be able to get into the draw with my partner Aisam-Ul-Haq Quereshi from Pakistan, but we were unlucky with the cut off so instead we’ll just get ready for the US Open. 

Being in the bubble isn’t too bad. Normally we are in a different hotel nearly every week so it’s actually a luxury to be in one place for a little bit more time. The USTA have done a great job in basically bringing everyone together in one main hotel at the Marriott in Long Island. 

Everything is super strict - no one is allowed in, there is security on the door and even food deliveries are checked.  They have built a little “garden” for us where you can sit out and eat food in front of a big screen watching the tennis. However either side of it, there’s a line that says if you cross the line you will be withdrawn because you’ll be breaking the bubble.

 

I feel actually quite comfortable with it, I came here expecting the worst and have been pleasantly surprised, looking at the positives. My room has a little balcony so I can get some fresh air, when you go downstairs, you have the breakfast, the gym, the games room which has a golf simulator, you can play table tennis, you have little recovery rooms where you can wear compression trousers or have an abbreviated 30 minute sleep that is meant to be the equivalent of a three-hour nap, so it’s all pretty innovative when you consider this is a situation that none of us have found ourselves in before. We wear our masks almost everywhere, have to fill out daily questionnaires, we are tested every two to three days but to be honest it’s a small price to pay as everyone is so happy to be competing again. 

It’s important too to keep perspective here that the small hoops we have to go through, these are nothing compared to what doctors and nurses in PPE all day long have to cope with or the grief anyone has suffered from someone they lost due to this virus.

Making the most of lockdown

Lockdown for me wasn’t that bad actually given that I wasn’t completely isolated from my parents being in the same building.  We were quite fortunate that we have a garden and were able to enjoy the weather which was incredible. 

I was also quite lucky that right before lockdown someone donated a whole set of weights and that combined with the LTA who were very kind in sending over a WATT bike, there was a pretty functional gym so from a fitness perspective that worked.  I was able to take walks and runs near the river for our one piece of daily exercise outside our home. 

I set up a makeshift exercise in the garden where I was serving into this mat to keep my shoulder going but when the NTC re-opened in mid-May it took me a full day to get my serve back over the net again. My one guilty pleasure during lockdown was having a thick crust Hawaiian pizza on a Sunday which was my cheat day as I felt I had earned it!

For tennis players the trickiest part being of lockdown was being in a long training-phase as we are used to competing every week, which is very different to say what an Olympic athlete is used to. You didn’t know how long that non-competition phase was going to be or when tennis was going to restart or what goal you are training towards. 

One of my first coaches gave me a really good life lesson: it’s not how you play, it’s how you respond.

Tennis is about being very adaptable and how you deal with different scenarios, for example at a tournament you never know exactly what time your match will start,  what the weather conditions will be like, how you will play, if you get a dodgy line call or what your opponent might be doing to throw you off.  One of my first coaches gave me a really good life lesson: it’s not how you play, it’s how you respond. Our sport makes you pretty good at dealing with new obstacles that come your way and gives skills to cope with that. That’s what makes tennis great.

Competing at the Battle of the Brits

Finally, the other highlight during this time was the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis event which Jamie organised and was held at the NTC. It was absolutely brilliant, getting to know some of the younger players and having your team mates cheer you on. Normally at Davis Cup for example you don’t hear them with thousands of fans in the stadium, but everyone really bought into this concept.

I also think it’s brought us players closer together, despite the competitive banter flying around, we have kept up our whatsapp group chat and continue to support each other here in New York. It would be great if there’s a way we can find a week in the calendar next year for this event to take place again. I hope the fans enjoyed watching it on TV and via streams too. Thanks everyone for your continued support of myself and the other British players, we really appreciate it even though you aren’t seeing us in person!

Dom ;-)

Inglot as one of Britain’s best players, receives Elite Access support from the LTA.

This is part of a series of blogs where the LTA will be catching up with British players around the world to share their experiences with fans returning from lockdown.

 

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