It’s been quite I while since I last blogged, and I have re-read my last post and it’s quite surreal to see what was going on at that time. In fact, regardless of whether anyone else has read or enjoyed my blogs, I have found it fascinating to go back in time and see where my journey since my injury has led me, and it definitely has been an interesting path (with lots of bumps along the way!)
I don’t even know if I have any readers/subscribers left, but I have been wanting to write again for so long. I find it extremely therapeutic, but the last 18 months have been so full on and such a whirlwind that I just haven’t had the time. But today I have forced myself to make time so that my head can catch up with everything.
First thing’s first – contrary to my website tag line, I am not longer a twenty-something. I turned thirty a few months ago, which I try not to dwell on too much, as I feel like a lot of my twenties were spent coming to terms with my injury and possibly missing out on living and enjoying myself. Anyway, I’m definitely not wasting time anymore, so I will just have to have an action packed decade to make up for lost time!
I also think now is a good time to mention that my spinal injury story hasn’t resulted in the happy ending of me walking off into the sunset. Despite my best efforts and exploits in Miami and China, I have not ‘healed’ from my injury and I am still a full time wheelchair user. And until science finds a cure, I will remain that way, but guess what… I’m ok with it! Obviously I didn’t choose this and I still struggle with it at times, but I am in a much better place than I ever thought imaginable.
The biggest change since I last wrote (and I mentioned it briefly at the end of my last blog post) and the thing that I truly believe has saved me, is tennis. It started out as a nice hobby – playing a couple of times a week and meeting some great people. From then to now a nice video montage would be ideal to summarise everything in a couple of minutes, but I don’t have one, so a few photos and captions will have to do…
Fast forward to now, and I am currently ranked somewhere around 90 in the world and 6th in Great Britain. I am pretty much training full time and traveling around Europe to compete in tournaments against some incredible players. I am also part of the GB Development Squad and get to work with some amazing coaches and strength and conditioning trainers.
This journey has been extremely challenging though, with many highs and lows, hundreds of sweaty hours on court and a lot of tears (mainly out of frustration). I have such a supportive team around me that I couldn’t do any of this without.
I want to use my blog to keep track of my tennis, so that I can look back in the future and hopefully re-live it. I have no idea where I will end up – I have some goals that I have set for myself, my main one for this year was to make the top 100 in the world and number 5 in Great Britain, which I achieved the week of my 30th birthday and was such an amazing feeling. I am now raising the bar a bit higher and am working even harder to try and get there.
Unfortunately, my biggest downfall in tennis is the mental side of it. I really lack confidence and belief in myself and this translates into my matches. I worked with a psychologist earlier this year, which definitely helped (she is now on maternity leave, but I hope to work with her again), but I think my general lack of confidence since the day of my accident is really reflected in my tennis. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I hate the feeling that I am letting people down if I don’t play well, and it all turns into a bit of a vicious cycle. However, I am trying to work on this, and I hope that when I do start to overcome it and manage it better, I can become a much better player. My physical progress in terms of technique, fitness etc has been quite rapid, so now I am taking some time for the mental side of it all to catch up. Then there will be no stopping me!
I started playing tennis because I wanted to be able to play with my family. I never thought it would lead me to where I am now, but I am so glad that it has and I look forward to seeing where it takes me to next. I know that there are going to be many many hours of hard work both on and off court, but I definitely think I am up for the challenge.
If you want to keep following my progress, I will be updating my blog much more regularly with my tennis and life exploits. I also have joined the world of Instagram, so there will be more regular updates on there as well. @suzanneedwards87