Wheelchair tennis player Andy Lapthorne took up the sport back in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since.
Andy competed in London 2012 in the quad doubles and came away with a silver medal. Four years later in Rio he picked up a silver in the quad singles and a bronze in the quad doubles. He has also won three Grand Slam titles as well.
Andy originally wanted to play football-but due to his disability of cerebral palsy- he decided to give tennis a go.
“Growing up as a kid I always wanted to play football, then you realise that you have got a disability and you find other sports to have a go at and I tried tennis and to play in the grand slams alongside top guys and to compete alongside those guys for money and to make a career out of it and I went and had a go and I really liked it and it went from there really and I’m just trying to win as many title as I can.” he said.
He wasn’t to disappointed when the news came through that there would be no Olympics this year.
“I think most tennis players now play on a world tour almost every week of the year and I could play every week if I wanted to.” he said.
“The Olympics is just another event on that calendar- it’s a big one, don’t get me wrong- but it’s just part of the year. We play four grand slams now so they are massive, and the Paralympics would have just sat alongside that really”
‘It wasn’t as big a blow for us as it was some sports, so as much as it is frustrating that we didn’t get to go, but it’s just part of the year. Having it next year doesn’t really make much difference to me as I am looking forward to going there and competing whenever we get the chance. It will be part of another big year and boost the year up, it’s a bit like having a fifth grand slam.”
Andy has found coming to terms with lockdown a little strange.
“It’s been a bit weird.” he said. “I’ve had a few weeks off at home and gradually as the lockdown has been eased I’ve been at the National Tennis Centre where i’ve had some training on the court next to Andy Murray and Jo Konta. It hasn’t been easy as we are used to training five, six days a week and travelling around the world playing events. The first couple of months where a bit weird and I started to find it a bit tough towards the end but know we’ve started training again, I’m preparing for when the call comes to go back out and compete.”
What is his secret of success then?
“For me it’s the desire and the will to win. I love winning and I hate losing, I love representing my country and I love travelling around the world to some cool places.” he said. “I seem to play well in places that suit my personality, places like New York on the big stage. I enjoy playing the events under pressure and I’m living my dream really playing grand slams. I just embrace the whole thing and the results seem to come of the back of that. A lot of hard work and a lot of training and now I’m getting a bit older with years of experience to draw on.”
Britain’s Tim Henham has always been a firm favourite of Andy.
“The first person that got me into tennis was Tim Henham. He was someone back in the day when I was a kid was playing Wimbledon. He was the person that everyone wanted him to win Wimbledon, he was my first tennis idol.” he said.
Andy also is a massive fan of another Andy, this time the Murray version.
“We’ve grown up playing in the same training venues and tournaments. We spend time together when we are at the training venue. We had lunch together a few weeks before the lockdown and a good couple of hours chat. He has also been on the phone to me this week speaking about things and trying to help out.” he said. “Just on the court and off the court he is just a great guy. He sees first hand how hard I and the wheelchair players work and he has a good understanding of how professional it is. He is a great supporter and somebody who is a great role model.”
Andy, along with other wheelchair tennis players has been very upset about the recent decision of the USTA to omit wheelchair competitions from this years event.
“It was disappointing because they just took the decision and didn’t ask us if we wanted to play, they just took the decision not to play.” he said. “To be fair to them on a call on Friday they were very open and they apologised to the players and they offered to do the right thing to offer to fix it. That’s all we want, we want the opportunity to play, we want the opportunity to compete. I won the titles last year and it would be nice to get the opportunity to go back and have the opportunities to defend those titles. We just want fair treatment and to be treated the same as the other bodied players.”
Interview with Andy Lapthorne