Getting Back On Course

Coming back from surgery wasn’t easy as it took some time to get the feel and confidence back in every aspect of my game-footwork, strokes, rhythm, timing etc. Since it was my first ever surgery, I wasn’t quite sure how my body would react or how quickly the knee would recover. I was fortunate to be operated on by a great orthopaedic surgeon, Mr. Ray Moran at the Santry Sports Surgery Clinic and he certainly helped by explaining the procedure and how I could expect the knee to heal. My first few days were spent on crutches waiting for the inflammation to go down and then I got straight into a comprehensive rehab programme which involved strengthening up my quadriceps, core and upper body. I have to thank my physical therapist Gerard Hartmann for his fantastic treatment, guidance and expertise as well as Mark McCabe and the whole team at Sports Med Ireland for their help and support with my rehab, strength and conditioning.

Myself, Joe, Paul and Nick

Myself, Joe, Paul and Nick in Atlanta

After a couple of weeks of rehab in Ireland, I flew to Atlanta so I could gradually pick up the level of intensity in my training. Atlanta has become a home away from home for me, thanks to some close friends I’ve made over the years and it is a city I love returning to. After a few weeks of tough training, I felt it was time to get back competing so I headed back out on the road for a series of Challenger events on the west coast of the U.S. My ranking slipped outside the top 150 as I hadn’t been earning any ranking points for 3 months and I was determined to get back on track. I was making daily improvements in my game throughout my training and I felt good going into the first week. My only concern was my lack of match play as I hadn’t played a competitive match in almost 3 months and I also didn’t know how my knee would hold up after the stresses of a full competitive match.

After my win over Freddie Nielsen in Fairfield, California

After my win over Freddie Nielsen in Fairfield, California

Thankfully, my knee and physical condition were not an issue throughout the few weeks of tournaments but I did struggle to find my rhythm and general form.  I ran into some in-form players the first couple of weeks and couldn’t quite get over the line when it counted in the matches. I felt I was playing at a pretty high level considering I hadn’t competed in a while but I just didn’t execute when I needed to. I did have a good win over ”The Great Dane” Freddie Nielsen in Fairfield, California but didn’t keep up the momentum for the next match. It was obviously disappointing not to get the results I set out to achieve but I have to remind myself to be patient and trust in the process, especially after returning from a serious injury.  Tennis can be extremely frustrating at times but it is a great teacher in teaching acceptance. Nothing is ever perfect in this game.




$344 for 1st Round of a $50,000 Challenger

I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling on top of the world after my last few tournaments and I found the final two weeks of tournaments particularly difficult as I travelled to them alone without my coach, who I usually travel with to most tournaments. I was handed a prize money receipt for $344 after losing early in the first round of my last event and realised that that wouldn’t even pay for my car rental for the week, never mind my food, flight and other expenses.

Tennis can be cruel at times and it’s even tougher if you don’t know how to handle defeat.  I’ve had some really lonely moments in different hotel rooms after losing tight matches in the past (more so ’09-’13) and the worst thing you can do is dwell on it and beat yourself up. One of the most important things in tennis is to enjoy it but there were many times over the years that I found it really tough. Maybe it was because of the loneliness I felt in my hotel room after losing a tight match, or the loneliness I felt while traveling from airport to airport. Maybe it was the tough early losses in tournaments held in the middle of nowhere, or the fact that I was losing money every week, or the fact that I couldn’t share my highest moments with anyone. These feelings don’t lead to anything positive which is why I always make a conscious effort to remain positive with my words, my outlook and to remember why I am playing in the first place.

What is my ”Why”?:

Fairfield Challenger

Fairfield Challenger

For me, enjoyment is the single most important reason why I decided to dedicate my life to tennis. It is also probably the most important emotion to feel in the game when playing. Not only does it feel good (probably the endorphin rush), but it leads to better performance which inevitably leads to better results.

My love of tennis goes back to when my Mom taught me how to play when I was 7 or 8 at my local tennis club, Castleknock LTC and it was then that I discovered my true passion for the game. Through this enjoyment, a dream grew in my mind of becoming a professional player and it wasn’t long before I started to believe in my dream and in my ability to achieve it.  Now and then, I remind myself of these important reasons, especially if I ever go through any of those tough moments.

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IMG_2449Keeping a positive frame of mind, remaining inspired and enjoying the process are really important things to focus on while on the tour. One of the things that always seemed to help me was reading positive material or listening to interesting audiotapes. I’ve always been drawn to reading spiritual books or even self-help books as I felt they gave me the fuel to continue on and keep pursuing my dreams. They also gave me a fresh perspective on life, a new way of seeing things and taught me some really powerful lessons like the importance of gratitude.  I continue to enjoy reading these type of books from time to time but I can tell you that they really helped me whenever I was alone playing Futures Tournaments week after week in Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Indonesia, Gabon and a load of other places across the world. I remember reading a lot of this stuff even in my teens and have read everything from Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coelho, Wayne Dyer (and many others) to all sorts of interesting autobiographies. It’s pretty uplifting stuff and definitely helps keep the spirits high!

Thank You!:

Marley, McGee, Maya #TeamM

Marley, McGee, Maya #TeamM

I would like to express my thanks to a few people and sponsors who have helped me recently. One of the things I’m most grateful for while on the tour is the new people I meet on a regular basis and the families I stay with. I was fortunate enough to stay with two amazing families in Tiburon and Sacramento this year and I want to say a huge Thank You to the Seifer Family and the Heller Family for their generosity while I was in California. Thanks Guys! :)

Team Fila

Team Fila

I would also like to thank my new clothing and shoe sponsor FILA for their support. It’s my first time getting support from a clothing and shoe sponsor and I am delighted to represent FILA as I love their style and quality of clothes and shoes.

I want to thank Ding, Head and Solinco for their continued support of me too over the last few years as well as those who have supported me privately. They have all been fantastic and very supportive and I am so grateful. Please click on the links to see what these great companies are all about!

Finally, I would also like to thank Aer Lingus for their support. I’ve flown with so many airlines 40 weeks per year over the last 7-8 years and I think Aer Lingus is right up there with the best of them when it comes to the quality of food and service provided. They are absolutely fantastic and I am delighted to be travelling with them.

Thank you Aer Lingus for your support!

Thank you Aer Lingus for your support!


What’s Next?:

You can keep up with what I’m doing next by following me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

I hope to compete in one more Challenger event in Europe before I end 2015. After this, I hope to put in some strong pre-season training so I can get ready for a bigger and better 2016!

Thanks for your support





Posted in ATP Tour, Challenger Tour, Coaching, Development, Finance, Futures, General, Information, Irish Tennis, Junior Tennis, Sponsorship, Tour Life, Tournament, Uncategorized, Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments



Rising to challenges day in and day out is part of being a professional athlete. Whether it’s rising to meet the challenge of competition, training, finding sponsorship, managing an injury or any number of things that spring up while travelling on the circuit. If you can’t rise to the challenge, you can’t win. Having a strong mindset is everything in sport and without it, it is impossible to succeed.

Inspired by Adversity:

I have been most interested in my life in people who are able to overcome serious adversity in their lives and I love learning about how they did it. It’s something that I am passionate about outside tennis and I have always been inspired by people in all areas of life who can overcome the odds, break through their own personal barriers and achieve their dreams. There’s nothing better than that tingling sensation that runs down your spine when you witness something inspirational, something that ‘touches a chord’ as they say. I guess I have committed my life to tennis so that I can try to experience those type of moments for myself and to share them with those who help and support me. Most of the time we acknowledge famous sports stars for their achievements as they are seen regularly on television but there are people fighting everyday and winning their own personal battle that are not always seen by the masses. There are everyday heroes living all around us. For example, I have a friend who recently spoke publicly along with Christos Kyrgios about a medical condition he has called Alopecia. I was truly inspired by the courage he showed in doing this. He’s only 15 years old, had lost all of his hair and was probably feeling a little embarrassed about it. It’s something not to be embarrassed about and I am so happy and proud to see him speak up. That shows real strength and character. I really believe it is important to congratulate people who show this type of courage as it gives other people a reason to display courage in their lives too. I, for one, am inspired by it.


Our deepest fear..

I’ve hit a small bump in the road on my own journey and recently had to have arthroscopic surgery to my knee in order to get back playing pain-free. My knee had gradually been getting worse over the past few months and it was hindering my performances so I decided to take a step back and sort it out. The timing hasn’t been ideal but the decision is the right one. It’s just another challenge to overcome and I see it as an opportunity to catch up on life away from the tour. I’m using the time off to seek sponsorship for the upcoming 12 months and I have written to a number of companies, businessmen and people I believe could be of help. Apart from that, I’m just doing my basic leg exercises, reading and trying to keep learning. It’s really tough not to be competing at this time of the year but I know I will come back hungrier and stronger than ever. Luckily, I am on the mend now and should be back on the tennis court in a few weeks. It’s hard to say exactly when I will be back playing tournaments as it depends on how quickly everything heals but I will keep you updated on my Facebook and Twitter pages.


Post Surgery Pic

Dealing with Injuries:

Up until this injury, I’ve done a good job over the last few years remaining injury free by being diligent with my warm ups, corrective exercises, recovery routines, stretching routines etc however I remember there was a time back in college in the U.S. where I would get injured almost every week -severe back spasms, twisted ankles, wrist inflammation, shoulder impingement, hip pain, adductor strains, patellar tendinitis. You name it, I had it.

When you are on a scholarship and playing for a team, there is pressure to perform but I felt that there was a macho mentality present in terms of ‘playing through the pain’ and we were meant to take pride in constantly playing through injury. I soon realised that it is more idiotic than anything to constantly push through pain and make things worse. Of course there is a time and a place to play through pain (muscle aches, cramps, competitive matches) but it makes no sense to force your body through an injury all the time, in practice and in matches. The pain will only reoccur and get worse and you will be left with something very serious. Believe me, I’ve done this a few times before and I specifically remember not being able to play tennis for almost 18 months in 2005/2006 when I suffered a stress fracture to my hand. It all developed from overuse, not training smartly and not listening to my body. If there is any advice I would give to juniors coming up, I would say ”Listen to your body” and trust your own feelings. I never really had a problem with putting in hard work back then and if anything, I needed to be pulled back from training rather than going for more. I fully believe in pushing the body and training very hard but there’s no point in doing that if you’ll be injured half the time. It’s about finding the right balance.


I Googled ”Resilience” recently and this is what came up;

Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others.


Arthur Ashe

I think there are many attributes that go into making someone great at something and I believe resilience is at the top of the list. For years, I’ve drawn inspiration from books, movies, poems, music, documentaries and conversations with people from all over the world who’ve faced seemingly impossible situations but have succeeded due to their resilience, determination and positive spirit. I recently watched a documentary on Arthur Ashe called “More Than A Champion” and was so inspired to learn about what he had come through and all the adversity that was put in his way. So much of his success came down to his resilience and his refusal to give up on his vision. It could have been so easy for him to see himself as a victim of discrimination and live a life fuelled by resentment or anger but he didn’t. He chose to live gracefully, fight for what he believed it and remain resilient no matter what.  I highly recommend watching it.

30_for_30_Volume_I_logoI guess I’m a big fan of these type of stories on resilience as I know I can learn from them and apply some of the lessons to my own life. There are lessons to learn in everything and we can all learn important lessons from each other, whether the experience is positive or negative. If you are looking for some inspirational documentaries and stories, check out ESPN’s 30 for 30. It’s a collection of documentary films that highlights important events and important people in sports down through the years and has some really interesting and inspiring stories.


I enjoy hearing stories of this nature and I believe they should be shared in schools and in coaching programmes from a young age, along with the right tools and techniques that can help shape/move someone’s life in a positive direction. There is a lot emphasis put on getting the right grades in school or developing the right strokes in tennis but how much emphasis is being put on building character and living with the right values? How much emphasis is being put on developing a winner’s mindset for life and for tennis?

I regularly see junior tennis players with great ability and technique but lacking any real mental qualities in terms of positive attitude, focus, desire, resilience etc. I often think the player would get better quicker if he spent at least 50% of the tennis session sitting down and learning about ways to become mentally tougher and the other 50% of the session on practicing his tennis skills.

What books, movies, music, poems, documentaries have inspired you and why?

Thanks Guys!


You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter here



Posted in ATP Tour, Challenger Tour, Development, Irish Tennis, Junior Tennis, Sponsorship, Tour Life, Training, Uncategorized, Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Summer Update

Hi Everyone,

It’s been almost 3 months since my last blog post so I thought I would update you on what I’ve been up to and how the season is progressing. I’m currently at home in Dublin and taking a bit of time off to rest my body and mind before I begin preparing for the next 5-6 months on the road. It’s hard to believe we are halfway through 2015 already, I feel like things are moving faster than ever so it’s nice to have the opportunity to take a few days off to step back and relax.

IMG_0833Ireland is a lovely place to be this time of the year so I’m making sure to get outside whenever the weather is good. I live next to the Phoenix Park which is one of the largest parks in Europe and I like to spend time there whenever I’m off the road. It is an incredible park, 1,752 acres in size and home to the famous Dublin Zoo. I usually just cycle around the park or follow a few trails and I find it a great way of rejuvenating. Life on the tour can be intense at times, competing week after week, and most weeks I look for a place to chill out wherever possible. Sometimes it’s the beach or a lake and other times it’s the mountains or parks, anything that involves nature really!

IMG_0981I’m currently at a career high ranking of #146 in the world after having some consistent results during the clay and grass court season on the Challenger Tour. Since my last blog post from Mexico, I went on to make the quarter-final of a challenger in Sarasota, the final in Savannah and two Challenger semi-finals on grass in Surbiton and Ilkley in June. I lost to the eventual champion in 3 out of 4 of those tournaments and I feel I have gained a lot from these experiences. All these results have helped push my ranking up a bit more which is positive but I always feel I can do better.  I have made improvements in my game over the past few months and I believe I still have a lot more to improve, both on and off the court.  So much of tennis is about fine margins and I am always looking to get a little bit better everyday. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsors for their wonderful support as I would not be making progress if it wasn’t for their help. Even though I am top 150 in the world, I am still spending more money than I’m making and it would currently be impossible for me to maintain my career on prize money alone. I appreciate the generosity and belief my sponsors have shown in me and I sincerely thank all of them. When I first had dreams of becoming a tennis player, I didn’t have a clue about what was involved financially but I understand it now and I have a great appreciation to the sponsors who have helped and continue to help me. Check out my blog post from 2013 where I write about financing the tour which will give you more of an insight into costs involved and how I scraped by for a few years without much sponsorship.

Along with thanking my sponsors, I want to thank everyone who is supporting me constantly and willing me to win every week on my Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s nice to be receiving such positive energy from others and I always appreciate the support! Here are some pics from the past few months on tour:


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I would obviously love to be playing Wimbledon at the moment but unfortunately I didn’t qualify in. It was a tough loss to take but if tennis has taught me anything, it’s that you have to move on as quickly as possible. Whenever I have a tough loss, I remind myself of the big picture and what I’m working towards. I’m now looking forward to the next 6 months and I’m determined to keep improving everyday.


I will keep you updated through my Facebook and Twitter pages of what I’m doing next.

Thank you all for your great support,

Best Wishes










Posted in General, Irish Tennis, Tour Life, Update, Tournament, Challenger Tour, Grand Slam, Wimbledon, Finance, Sponsorship, ATP Tour | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Viva La Mexico

With Nick Cavaday after the final

With Nick Cavaday after the final

I’m taking a couple of days off in Atlanta at the moment after spending the last 10 days in San Luis Potosi, Mexico playing a $50,000+H Challenger event. Myself and my coach Nick Cavaday flew down early to prepare for the conditions-red clay, 1,850 Metres above sea level, pressureless tennis balls which all require a bit of extra time to get used to. Coming from Ireland, where I grew up on artificial grass courts, playing at sea level with heavy, wet ”Tretorn X’’ tennis balls in the pouring rain couldn’t be more different to the conditions in Mexico but after a few days I started to feel the ball much better and felt confident going into the tournament.

The fans were amazing!

The fans were amazing!

I started off the tournament with a great win over the #3 seed and world #93 Damir Dzhumur followed by an absolute dog fight win over Guilherme Clezar 7-6 in the 3rd set in the 2nd Round. I thought I was down and out at 0-4 down in the third but managed to somehow scrap out the win on the dirt. I played a great quarter final to beat Andres Molteni 6-1 6-4 in the quarters and my best match of the tournament came in the Semi-Finals Vs. the #2 seed and world #87 Paolo Lorenzi. Paolo is well respected on the tour for his work ethic, toughness and consistency so I knew I needed a good performance to win. I won my semi-final 6-3 5-7 6-3 after 2 hrs 40 mins in front of a passionate, fun and vocal Mexican crowd. It was a huge buzz to come through it and I was very grateful to be part of such an exciting match. I play tennis for matches like those, where other people are involved and there is genuine excitement for the tennis being played.

The fans were amazing!

I didn’t have a huge amount of recovery time from my semi-final match but regardless, I felt good going into my first Challenger Tour final. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite get my game together and get the momentum I needed to sink my teeth into the match. My opponent, Guido Pella played a very solid match, served well and was the better player on the day. I would have loved to have won my first Challenger Title in San Luis Potosi but it’s ok, I will learn from it and get better as a result. I’m already excited and looking forward to my next event where I hope to improve from this experience. My ranking is now at 170 in the world which is a career-high. Time to push on!

Here are some pics from San Luis Potosi and also the ATP University in Miami:


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I pretty much lived at the hotel, courts and restaurant throughout the week in San Luis Potosi and didn’t get to see much of the city but I hope to see it sometime again. I did, however, complete a season and a half of the TV Series ‘’Suits’’ (Harvey Specter is the man!) which I’m pretty proud of. I’ve never been much of a TV watcher but this show has drawn me right in! Other than that, my evenings were spent having dinner with my coach and hanging out with James ‘’Duckman’’ Duckworth at the local Chilis restaurant. :)


What a show!

A week or so before San Luis Potosi, I spent 3 days in Miami at the ATP University with 23 other players. The ATP invite players ranked inside the top 200 at the end of the year to participate in the ATP University which is mandatory. It was a really fun experience to spend time with other players and learn all the ins and outs about being a top player. I learnt about the ATP, the organisation, Media, Finances, Anti-Doping, Anti-Corruption, Nutrition, Health and Insurance as well as a number of other benefits the players receive. Overall it was a worthwhile experience which had a few perks as well-3 nights in the Marriott Hotel, seeing a Miami Heat game and eating some exceptional food! I gained a lot of insight into the ATP and became more aware of the role we have as players. There is so much more to being a top professional tennis player than hitting balls and playing matches.


ATP University in Miami

ATP University in Miami

My next event will be a $100,000 Challenger event in Sarasota, I am in the qualifying of the event as the ranking cut was super high this year. First match starts next Saturday.

I have posted up a lot of my pictures on my Facebook Fan Page, Twitter and Instagram accounts also if you want to follow me on there.

The support online has been fantastic and I’m grateful to everyone who is supporting me. Thanks a lot to all of you!!

GRACIAS San Luis Potosi!

Best Wishes




Posted in ATP Tour, Challenger Tour, General, Irish Tennis, Tour Life, Tournament, Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

March Update

Hello again Everyone,

Life on the tour over the past few months has been fun, difficult, interesting and just a fantastic learning experience. Even though I’ve been playing for years and have plenty of experience by now, I find myself constantly learning new things. Sometimes small, sometimes big but I have to say I am enjoying the experience and am extremely grateful to be living this life. I never take it for granted, that’s for sure.


Dubai ATP 500

Consistency is my focus this year. It’s a real challenge to remain consistent throughout the 10-11 month tennis year but that’s the name of the game. A lot of it comes down to preparation and I am doing everything in my power to be the best I can be on a daily basis. The quality and depth in men’s tennis is remarkable now and you need to be at your best in order to keep progressing up the ranks, it’s as simple as that. There are so many things to manage-your game, schedule, finances, fitness, mindset, injuries and it requires being very organised and clear on your objectives. Even though there are obstacles everyday, I take inspiration from overcoming them. No one said this sport would be easy, it’s bloody tough but in a strange way, I like the fact that it’s hard. I like the fact that it requires full focus and commitment in order to succeed.

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My last tournament was the qualifying of Indian Wells Masters 1000 last week. It was my second time playing in Palm Springs and it has just about everything a player could want-impeccable weather, great staff and organisation, mixed tournament, plenty of space for the players to move about, fun atmosphere amongst the fans and just a really nice vibe wherever you go. I had a solid win in the 1st found over the 14th seed Colombian Alejandro Falla but got knocked out in the last round to the Aussie Alex Bolt, who really played a great match on the day. It was tough not to qualify in but the experience itself has just added more fuel to the fire.

Before Indian Wells, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Wildcard into the main draw of the Dubai Duty Free ATP 500 event starring the best players in the world. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and many other top players were playing and it was great to spend time around these guys. It was interesting to see how they all went about their business, both on and off the court and it was good just to get a better sense of the type of individuals they are. I spent time chatting with Roger Federer at the player’s party and he was very open and willing to share his insight. He was engaging and respectful which was so nice to see in a champion.


Meeting Federer at the Player’s Party

The tournament itself was incredible and has been voted the ”Best Tournament of the Year” in the ATP 500 category for the 11th time! There wasn’t one thing out of place at the event and it was so nice to show up and see that the way the organisers care and pay attention to all the little but important details.

I was disappointed with my performance in the first round of the main draw and would have liked to have played to my full potential but looking back on the match and the overall experience, it was invaluable. I had played similar matches to that at Challenger Level and won, and it was good to find out that I can’t get away with that type of play at the highest level. I took so much from the match and have a much better idea of what I need to do moving forward which is all positive. To get to play the world’s biggest events against the world’s best players and to play on Centre Court on SkySports TV is all part of my dream but I envision winning the next time. The only way to do that is to keeping improving and get back to work!

My next event will be San Luis Potosi $50,000 Challenger in Mexico which starts the week of March 30th. I’m excited to get back training on the red I just need to find my clay court shoes!

As always, thank you for your support and positive energy.

Best Wishes


For more frequent updates, you can follow me on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE

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October Update

Hi Guys,

I just finished up a great training block in Atlanta before flying out to play my final 3 tournaments of 2014. I am ranked #188 in the world this week and I’m hoping to end the year as strong as I can. The last 3 tournaments are all $50,000 Challenger events and will be held in Charlottesville, Knoxville and Champaign. For updates on my progress, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

My focus now is on breaking into the top 100 so I can get direct acceptance into the main draw of Grand Slam events and avoid playing the qualifying event. Easier said than done but in order to break the top 100 you need to earn roughly 550 ATP Rankings points within a year. This can be done by winning Challenger Titles or by winning consistently on the ATP Tour. In order for that to happen, I will need to keep working hard, keep improving and keep believing.  


Qualifying into U.S Open

There was no better feeling than qualifying into the U.S. Open this year. I couldn’t have asked for a better way or a better place to do it. It was a big milestone in my career and I’m proud to have reached it. I would have loved to have gone further in the main draw but I took a lot of inspiration out of my experience in New York.  Now it’s time to focus on building from this positive experience and keep climbing higher.

My coach during the U.S. Open, Jeff Salzenstein, captured the moment I qualified in and you can watch it here:

Here are some pictures of my U.S. Open Experience:

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Here are some more pictures of my summer and also some more tournaments I played after the U.S. Open:

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Next stop Charlottesville!

Thank you all for the great support,


Posted in Irish Tennis, Tour Life, Update, Tournament, Challenger Tour, Grand Slam | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 so far…

Firstly, let me thank everyone who has written to me, commented, tweeted, shared and sent positive messages my way over the last few months via my Facebook Fan Page and Twitter page. I read them all and I really appreciate it so THANK YOU once again.

2014 has been an interesting year so far and I am really excited about the upcoming weeks and months. Each day, week and month on the tour is filled with exciting moments and challenging moments and I am expecting plenty more to come!

First time playing at Roland Garros!

First time playing at Roland Garros!

Some of the high moments for me this year involved playing the qualifying of The Australian Open, Indian Wells, Roland Garros (all for the first time), getting some solid wins over players like Alex Bogomolov, Guido Pella and having the opportunity to meet and learn from some great people, players and coaches. It has been a dream of mine to play these tournaments and now I am focused on reaching the next level.

Davis Cup was also a great moment this year when we managed to defeat Egypt in our Group 2 relegation match in April which was held at my home club, Castleknock L.T.C. (Thanks to everyone who came out to support)

© Kevin O'Brien

© Kevin O’Brien

 © Kevin O'Brien

© Kevin O’Brien

Some of the challenging moments involved a few 1st round losses, competing without coaching support at the first 7 of 9 tournaments this year, financial concerns, some minor injuries, missed flights, dodgy food and a few tough heart-aching losses etc.  There are so many things that occur on a daily basis that are out of your control and I think it helps to live by the phrase, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it that matters”


Check out some pictures from this year which will give you a better idea of what I’ve been up to:

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the families and friends who have reached out to me over the past 5-6 months and provided housing for me across the world while I’ve been training and playing at tournaments. I’m always amazed at the generosity I receive.

The schedule this year has been hectic which has involved multiple cross-continental flights, constant time-zone changes and climate changes. Adapting to a new surface, balls, altitude, humidity and general environment on a weekly basis is part of the job and I can safely say after almost 6 years on tour, it is still a constant challenge. I have competed in 15 tournaments so far this year as well as one Davis Cup appearance Vs. Egypt in April (which we won!) and now I am preparing for the upcoming grass-court season, followed by the hard court season in North America.

I attained a career-high ranking of #206 on May 5th and I am working very hard on improving this over the coming months. I’ve reached the last round of qualifying of Roland Garros and Memphis ATP event this year as well as having a few Challenger Semi-final (Noumea, Tallahassee) and Quarter-final (Dallas) appearances this year. My focus now is to continue creating these type of opportunities for myself over time and I believe I will start coming through more of these matches. My first Australian Open in January was a thrill to say the least as well as competing at my first Masters Series 1000 event (Indian Wells Qualifying) in March-phenomenal tournament!

Practicing with Hewitt in Indian Wells

Practicing with Hewitt in Indian Wells

During the Australian Open, I had an interview with Ben Rothenburg who writes for The New York Times and you can read the article HERE

Also, I had a short T.V. interview with ABC News during the Australian Open which you can watch HERE

When I haven’t been on the court or in the gym or hauling my bags around airports, I have spent the greater portion of my time looking for sponsorship opportunities. It has been a lengthy, arduous process and like all things that are worth anything in life, it takes patience and perseverance.  As I explained in a previous blog post, the tour is very very costly and even though I am almost ranked top 200 in the world, I still require the assistance of sponsors to continue my journey.

I would like to sincerely thank Ezetop for their support and also to Tutti Frutti in Barcelona. I would also like to thank The Irish Sports Council and some other private individuals for their generous support this year.

Enjoying my Tutti Frutti Fro-Yo in Barcelona! :)

Enjoying my Tutti Frutti Fro-Yo in Barcelona! :)

That’s everything for now. I look forward to updating you later in the summer!

Thanks Guys!



Posted in Challenger Tour, Davis Cup, Finance, Futures, Grand Slam, Information, Irish Tennis, Roland Garros, Sponsorship, Tour Life, Tournament, Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

End of Year Update

2013 is coming to a close and I thought I’d take the time to update everyone on my progress.

But firstly…

I just want say a massive THANKS to everyone who has read/shared/tweeted and commented on my last blog post which you can access HERE

I received well over 40,000 views on that post alone and I believe it generated a lot of interest because there are so many players/parents who have similar financial concerns to me. I hope it provided some insight into what it is like to survive on the tour.

I’ve created a slideshow of photos from 2013. Feel free to flick through them to see what I’ve been up to this year:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were many highlights for me throughout the year as well as some low moments. All in all, I am happy with the progress I made this year as I jumped from being ranked 401 in November 2012 to 220 in November 2013.  I also had the chance to play my first Grand Slam qualifying event in Wimbledon this year and I had some solid top 100 wins over guys like Ryan Harrison and Blaz Kavcic. I am continuing to learn on a daily basis what is required to become a top tennis player and I hope I can continue this progress throughout 2014.

Despite my progress in the ranks, I am still in a difficult position financially as I am only earning a fraction of what I am spending. I have relied heavily on funding from my local club as well as my own prize money to keep me out on the road competing. It is a constant challenge to fund myself on the tour and I am working extremely hard, both on and off the court to achieve what I want to achieve so I can stay out on tour competing. If you, or anyone you know would be interested in providing a contribution to support me on the tour, please contact me.

Next up for me is the Australian Open Qualifying event which runs from Jan 8-11, 2014. I’m really excited to go Down Under for the first time in my life and I’m hoping I can play well down there. I’ve done the preparation so now it is a question of trusting my game and letting it happen.

I will keep you guys updated on my progress throughout 2014.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter here and you can ”LIKE” my Facebook Page here

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2014!

All the best,


Posted in Challenger Tour, General, Irish Tennis, Sponsorship, Tour Life, Update | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Financing the Tour

Hello again everyone,

I’d like to use my blog to answer some of the questions I receive frequently from younger players, parents and general tennis fans. I tend to hear a lot of questions to do with training/travelling/funding/motivation and in this particular blog post,  I will focus on finance and related matters. It will be about the expenses, the prize money and the different ways I’ve managed on tour over the past few years.

Let me first start by going back to 2009..



For many years, my biggest concern about playing on the tour wasn’t so much about my will or ability, it was more about having the money to actually do it! I was extremely fortunate to have some private sponsors help me out for a short time when I first started on the Futures Tour (July ’08) but the money didn’t last long due to the economic downturn. I ended up being in a position in early 2009 where I had no sponsorship and very little personal money. Major challenge..


I was ranked in the 400’s in 2009 after a good start on the tour from July-Dec ’08. It was a time where I needed funding to really push on and not get stuck but unfortunately, I did get stuck. My lack of funding lead to major changes in my schedule, my game, my mentality, my ranking and consequently my results. It was a difficult time and it lasted well over 2 years until mid 2011. Not surprisingly, my results were not outstanding during that period and I really felt I was struggling due to minimal funds.

I played primarily on the Futures Tour during 2009/2010 as my ranking was not high enough to get into the main draw of Challenger Tournaments. I was limited to a European schedule as cross-continental flight costs (America/Asia etc.) were too expensive and I stayed in the cheapest accommodation I could find at tournaments, including residential dorms and hostels. The fact that I had so little money meant that I couldn’t afford a coach so I traveled to over 90% of tournaments alone. At first, it was exciting to have such freedom and to be ”chasing my dream” but after some time reality kicked in. I was both alone and stressed and wasn’t sure exactly how things would pan out. Aloneness and high performance don’t mix well and it’s just not surprising that I wasn’t reaching my full potential during that period.

Cutting Costs:

Cut costs

I took strong measures to cut costs as it was the only option I had. To cut flight costs, I started travelling with Ryanair as they had the ”cheapest” flights and flew into a few cities that were close to some of the Futures tournaments.  Everyone knows how Ryanair do their best to catch passengers who are 1 or 2 kilos overweight in baggage and I learned the hard way. In order for me not to get caught by them, I had to reduce the amount of gear/equipment I usually traveled with, buy a new carry-on bag (which I made sure exactly fitted the shape/size requirements!) and hoped they wouldn’t find something else to charge me for. I learned to put my clothes, tennis rackets and a folded tennis bag into one suitcase and I used my carry-on bag for a laptop, some clothes and a few other essential things. I turned it into a game and used to find pleasure when placing my suitcase up on the scales and seeing 15.0 Kilos on the dial. ”C’MONNN!!!”


I fought with this many times!


Definitely overweight for a Ryanair Flight!

I did a few other things too to cut costs like taking the boat a few times to the U.K., sleeping next to strangers in hostels and I even made equipment changes to cut down on my restringing costs. I started using a thicker string with a lower gauge which meant it would take longer to snap. This certainly saved me some extra cash but it didn’t save my shoulder-I ended up having to take 3 months off and get an injection in my shoulder at the end of 2011 because it had taken a serious beating from playing with what felt like a large plank of wood. I won’t be doing that again!

On top of that, I had to find players every week who I could share a room with to cut hotel costs. It wasn’t very enjoyable and I had my fair share of sleepless nights because my French or Italian roommate was snoring the hotel down. On one particular instance, my roommate was snoring so loud that I screamed at the top of my lungs, “SHUT THE #@!* UP!” and threw my two pillows at his head. It was enough to quieten him down for a few hours but still, not ideal. I’ve since purchased some effective noise-reducing ear plugs which I now use when flying, sleeping in noisy hotels etc.

I also clamped down on my laundry expenses by washing all my clothes in the bathtub or sink during tournaments. Laundry can surprisingly be quite expensive depending on what hotel you stay at.


My clothes drying out on the balcony!


The two largest expenses are always flights and accommodation and after that, you have to take care of food, restringing, laundry, transport (taxi, train, bus), Physio (massage), equipment (string/clothes etc.) and the odd random expense (entry fees, ITF/ATP subscription fees etc.).

Expenses can really add up on a weekly basis when you take all these factors into account and you have to remember, all of this is just for myself! If you add a coach to the equation or a physical trainer, you might as well double those costs as you have to pay their flights/hotel/food along with a weekly salary. The costs end up being astronomical!


Average week on Tour expenditure within Europe

I don’t care how good a player is or how talented he is, no player can continually progress without the help of other people- be it a coach, a trainer, a physical therapist or a mental coach. You need someone in your corner who can challenge you, support you, develop you and take you to that extra level.

I was simply in a situation back in 2009 where I literally could not afford to have someone continuously helping me so I reached out to a lot of good-hearted people who empathized with my situation and gave me free coaching, free accommodation and free advice.

Just so you know, most players (aside from very top guys) play between 25 and 30 tournaments per year, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the player. For the other 20 or so weeks where they are not competing, most players use that time to train or rest. Large costs can still be incurred during these weeks if you choose to pay a coach or a trainer.

For the players who can’t afford this, they tend to use this time to train without a coach or physical trainer. In my opinion, these weeks are just as important as the competitive weeks and from my own experience, I always progressed more during the training weeks where I had a coach compared to when I hadn’t.

In Search of Knowledge:

In my non-competitive weeks I spent my time searching for sponsorship and looking for world-class coaching. I traveled to Italy a few times to work with world-renowned coach Bob Brett and his protégée Marin Cilic (currently world #11). Bob was kind enough to offer me plenty of free coaching and training and I am sincerely grateful for that gesture. It was an awesome experience and I got to know Marin too which is cool.


Training with Bob Brett and Marin Cilic

I also travelled to a few tennis academies and coaches in the U.K. including the LTA Centre at Roehampton and a bunch of training centers in Europe. My old coach Larry (Tennis Canada) used to give coaching clinics/seminars in many centers around the U.K. and I travelled over to gain from his expertise in the 48 hours he was there. I slept on his hotel room floor a few times and used to take notes and record the conversations we had so I could listen to them when I was back on the road competing. I was spending money to travel to the U.K.  but I saw it as an investment in improving my game and keeping me on the right track.

Prize Money:

The prize money at Futures tournaments is scandalously poor.

I remember making the final of a Futures in Madrid in May 2011 and receiving under €500 in prize money. It was atrocious and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the cheque. It was both discouraging and sad to see my hard work earning me very little money. Up to that point, it was my most successful week of 2011 in terms of ranking points but I still lost more money than I made!

Futures tournaments can be of a high standard with guys ranked as high at 190 in the world playing them. Even with winning the whole tournament, a lot of the time the prize money earned will not even cover costs for the week!

The whole reason for playing Futures tournaments is to earn enough rankings points so that your ranking can be high enough to start playing some Challenger tournaments but the process of getting into the main draw of Challengers can be very tough, especially if you do it without help. It is possible to do, but requires a lot of mental strength and physical ability.


After tax, I made less than €500 for final of a Futures in Madrid


Prize money receipt for 1st Round of $15,000 Futures

Prize Money Receipt for 2nd Round of Challenger

Prize Money Receipt for 2nd Round of Challenger

Challenger Tour:

Once you make it to the Challenger Tour, life gets a little bit easier in terms of the organization of the tournament, the general setup and for a lot of Challengers, hospitality can be provided for the week. The standard of competition is obviously that much higher but prize money and ATP ranking points are so much greater than Futures.

In order to break through from the Challenger Tour to the ATP Tour, you need to be able to win consistently at Challenger Tour level and very seldomly do I see a player who is doing this without help. A huge portion of Challenger players have a coach with them for the week as it can give them an advantage with regards to scouting, practice, off-court management and general company.

For the players who win consistently at Challenger Tour Level and travel alone, they are exceptional players and from my observations, they are almost always the older, more experienced players who have been on tour for years. They know what they’re doing..

League Tennis in 2009/2010:

I wasn’t receiving positive responses on the sponsorship end of things so to keep myself afloat financially, I started playing Club tennis in France and Germany as it was the only viable option to get fast cash. In 2010, I think I played about 11 league matches on 11 consecutive weekends in different parts of France and Germany. In between each league match I was playing different Future tournaments around many countries in Europe and I was hustling every Saturday to catch one (sometimes 2) flights to play my club matches. I would play 2 club matches on the Sunday (singles+doubles), get paid and hustle to get a flight out late Sunday night to go to the next tournament for a 1st Round match on the Monday, regularly in another country. Talk about grinding!

To say it was hard is an understatement, it was one of the most physically draining schedules I had and one which led to a lot of stress and injury. It was extremely tough and led me to question a lot of my inner beliefs as to why on earth I was putting myself through this type of lifestyle. It was stressful, physically draining and lacked any real financial reward. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of “what could be” if I manage to keep grinding.  I was basically in a losing race, at some point I either had to stop playing altogether or something great would have to happen..


My old league team in France, great guys!

Most league tennis around Europe is played during the summer months but I had to get money for the other 9 months. I started playing French money tournaments around different parts of France. Basically, these tournaments were in the middle of nowhere in France with nothing around apart from a large shed/warehouse that had a few tennis courts inside. The tournaments would last 3-4 days and I would usually be put up in housing. Matches weren’t even all that easy but I did win a couple of tournaments here and there. A nice €600 paycheck to keep myself going for the next week or so..

Indoor clay court

I would regularly play league tennis/money tournaments in this type of venue

Counting pennies

I’m not the only tennis player who has had to live this type of nomadic lifestyle but when I talk to other ATP Tour players about the cost of the tour and how they handle their finances, each one has shared a different story..

European Club Tennis/World Team Tennis

Many players I talk to play league tennis across Europe and you will regularly see Top 100, Top 50 and even Top 20 players playing for a variety of clubs. The payment for playing varies but can be from €500 to €10,000 per match depending on ranking. A player ranked in the 500’s can earn over €1000 per match. A top 200 player can earn over €2500 per match plus expenses. The club tennis is a big business and many players would not survive on tour without it. I, for one, can vouch for that!

Some of the U.S. and international players play World Team Tennis in the U.S. but I’m not familiar with their system.

2006 World Team Tennis

World Team Tennis

Davis Cup

Other players I’ve talked to rely on their Davis Cup earnings to take care of a good chunk of their expenses throughout the year. Obviously it depends on which Davis Cup Group your country is in but I’m aware that many Challenger Tour players receive a substantial payment to perform for their country.

Playing Davis Cup Vs. Egypt 2012

Playing Davis Cup Vs. Egypt 2012

Unfortunately for Irish tennis players, this is not the case. When it comes to earnings for Davis Cup, I receive much less than I would for playing one club match in France.  Most club matches are played on Sunday afternoons and all are best of 3 Tie-break sets. Davis Cup on the other hand lasts the entire week and the matches from Friday to Sunday are all best out of 5 sets! 

To give you an example: In my last Davis Cup match Vs. Finland in April, I received €500 for my efforts in a tight 5 set match which I lost to Harri Heliovaara. I also received an extra €320 for team selection. Total of €820. That money didn’t even last me a full week on tour!  

Let me be clear, I am extremely honoured to be in a position to play for my country and represent Ireland. I’ve always given 100% in my matches in Davis Cup but I believe the payment for playing for Ireland is grossly unfair. Playing Davis Cup 2 weeks out of the year results in missing 4 weeks of professional Challenger and ATP tournaments throughout the year. That’s 4 weeks of earnings and 4 weeks of gaining vital ATP rankings points. From my personal experience, Davis Cup is extremely demanding on a physical and emotional level and I have always needed to take a few days off after Davis Cup in order to rest and prepare for the next tournaments. These weeks away from the tour can be crucial in terms of ranking points and earnings.


Ireland Vs Finland Live on Setanta Sports

National Federations/Governing Bodies

Some players, such as the Spaniards/French receive funding from their National Federations up to a certain age or ranking in order to help them out in their career.  It is no surprise to me at all why these countries continue to regularly produce world class players. They have a fantastic system in place, support their players and they have a fantastic tennis culture. (I will go into more depth on this subject in another blog post)

Irish Sports CouncilUnfortunately, I have not been awarded any funding from the Irish Sports Council in 3 years despite being number 1 in Ireland for the past year and winning the Irish Open in 2011 which is an international event.  I very much appreciated the grants I received from them in 2009 and 2010 as I am certain I would not have survived without them.


In my entire junior and senior career, I didn’t receive any funding from Tennis Ireland aside from a small payment in 2010 that would have lasted me less than one week on the tour.

If Irish Tennis is to survive or progress at all, funding our players will need to become a top priority.

Clothing/Racket/String Sponsorship:

There are many players who have reduced their expenses by receiving clothing/shoes/racket or string sponsorship.

Solinco Logo

I am fortunate enough to receive free rackets from Head and a fantastic discount with the string company Solinco. I do not have a clothing sponsor or a shoe sponsor but I am presently looking for one.

The cost of clothing and shoes have become a large expense for me over the years and on average, I am going through about 12 pairs of hard court shoes per year, 6 pairs of clay court shoes and 2 pairs of grass court shoes. That can cost up to €3,000. To add the cost of clothing to that figure, I’ve come up with a estimate of €5,000 per annum in clothing/shoes expenses.

Some players are paid to use certain rackets or clothing and I believe a lot of them are the ones ranked at the top of the rankings, in seniors or juniors. Head Logo

In order to have these type of deals, it helps a lot to have a manager/agent negotiating on the player’s behalf.*

*I don’t have any financial deals with commercial companies nor do I have a manager or agent helping me. Any form of sponsorship would be of invaluable assistance to me.

Private Sponsorship:


Many players work their way up the rankings ladder on the tour with the mindset of attracting a sponsor who can step in and provide funding to ease the financial strain. Fortunately for me, this was the case at the end of 2011 when I received substantial funding from my home club which has kept me going till now. For me, it was a miracle as I was in desperate need for funding to keep going on the tour. At that particular time, I was over €6,000 in debt due to costs incurred that year and I was not making any headway in my search for sponsorship. I am forever grateful to my home club for helping me in such a huge way and my results have improved significantly due to their help. It has allowed me to play on the tour without the enormous stress of financial worry and it has allowed me to play a full schedule of tournaments. On top of that, their financial help has led me to use Barcelona as a training base in my weeks off from the tour where I work with some excellent coaches and trainers.

I would also like to acknowledge the financial assistance from The Fitzwilliam Development Fund over the course of my professional career.

Future Sponsorship:

As I’ve already explained, I have benefitted and progressed greatly from my home club’s sponsorship.

That sponsorship has now expired and I am actively seeking alternative sources of sponsorship in order to take me to the next level. I am confident in my ability to climb further up the rankings which will allow me to play ATP Tour and Grand Slam events. With financial assistance, I know I can do it.

I kindly request anyone reading this blog to share it, tweet it or email it to anyone (private/commercial) you believe can be of financial assistance to me.

I am so grateful to you all for your moral support,

Slán agus beannacht,



Final Thoughts:

I know this blogpost has been a long one and quite detailed but I felt it had to be thorough in order to fully explain the costs involved to play on the tour.

I want to make it abundantly clear that money is not the be all and end all of success in tennis, it just helps.  I’ve seen players, teams and federations with all the money in the world yet they haven’t produced the same amount of success as individuals and federations with a limited budget. Sometimes it actually helps to have a limited budget, it gives people that burning desire and hunger that is necessary to achieve great success.

If you don’t have a lot of money but do have a lot of passion, then the only way forward is to beat everyone else you play. When you do that, you will eventually get recognised and hopefully that will lead to some sponsorship and opportunity. I know I’m being blunt here, but it’s true. The only way is to be absolutely exceptional at what you do and strive for excellence everyday.


Posted in Challenger Tour, Club Tennis, Coaching, Davis Cup, Development, Finance, Futures, Information, Irish Tennis, Junior Tennis, Sponsorship, Tour Life, Tournament, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Post Wimbledon Update

Hello Everyone!

I know it has been months since my last update but I figured I might as well stop procrastinating and get back writing.

I am back home in Dublin now after returning back from Wimbledon Qualifying earlier in the week. The past few weeks have been a fantastic learning experience for me in many ways but I’m happy to be home to have some time to reflect. I have learned through the years that time off to rest and reflect is just as important as the training and the competition. It just gives you some breathing space and a chance to see everything from a different angle.

I was delighted to make the cut for Wimbledon qualifying this year but it wouldn’t have happened had I not had some great performances in China and Korea back in early May. Going into Busan $75,000 Challenger in Korea a few weeks ago, I was aware in the back of my head that I needed a good result to make the cut for Wimbledon but I took the approach going into the tournament of “whatever will be, will be.” Even though it meant a lot to me to make the cut, there was no point in putting too much pressure on myself so I just went out, did my best and the result took care of itself. Fortunately, I was ranked #241 in the world when the new rankings came out and the Wimbledon qualifying cut ended up being #242! Lucky me..

Me and my old coach Larry at Wimbledon

Me and my old coach Larry at Wimbledon

Unfortunately, my time at Wimbledon qualifying didn’t last  long after I lost 1st round to Paul Capdeville 6-3 6-4. It wasn’t my best performance by all means and it was a tough one to take but there’s no point getting down about it. Tennis has taught me some great lessons and more often than not, I have learned a lot more from my defeats compared to my victories. For me, that’s what makes the sport so special. Tennis is a metaphor for life and I believe there are many ways of applying the lessons you learn on the court to your own life off the court.

I want to thank everyone who continues to support me throughout the year, you know who you are so thank you very much.

Lastly, here is a link to an excellent Irish Times article written by Jonathan Drennan about me before I went out to play Wimbledon qualies.

Best Wishes Everyone,


Posted in Challenger Tour, Grand Slam, Irish Tennis, Tour Life, Tournament, Update, Wimbledon | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments