Up-and-coming tennis ace Max Walker has Wimbledon glory firmly in his sights and hopes to follow in the footsteps of his hero Rafael Nadal
Ranked number one tennis player in the Midlands in his age group and number four in the country, Max Walker likes winning and puts in the hard yards to get there. He trains every day, clocking up roughly 12 hours of training a week at a number of venues.
His club is Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club but he also trains twice a week at the Midlands Regional Development Centre in Nottingham and is part of a selected group of U14 high performance juniors who benefit from coaching at Loughborough University. His role model is 17-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal – so nothing less than winning will do. Like his hero, he says he ‘likes winning a lot’.
Max has always loved his tennis but when he was aged nine he changed coaches, which seemed to be the catalyst for success. Within six months of making the change he started to excel. This year Max triumphed at the Four Nations Junior Championships with the England U12 team beating top players from Scotland, Wales and Ireland and on securing his first win for his country, he says: “I really enjoyed it. The best part was when I played a match against one of the Irish players and I knew that if I won then we would win the under-12s. It was a very close match, but it was a great feeling when I won.”
Max was also part of the Nottingham Tennis Centre team that was crowned National Premier Division U12 champions and he reached the National County Finals for Staffordshire. Competing most weekends in the LTA’s regional and national tour events, Max also travels to play in mainland Europe giving him experience of competing against top juniors from across the continent. There’s a good group of friends on the tour who Max has become close to. In fact his schedule means he spends more time with tennis pals than school friends.
TENNIS VS SCHOOL
A stint at Wimbledon in 2017 with his team mates, in which they were tasked with showcasing the talents of the next generation of British tennis players, whet Max’s appetite and made him want to be there for real competing at the highest level. The commitment physically and mentally (and financially adds Max’s mum!) is immense and teamed with rigorous schooling at King Edward’s School it’s a bit of a juggle, but one that works.
The school is thoroughly supportive, so Max is able to leave early on certain days and gets extra time to do homework if needed. He regularly plays for the school tennis team often competing against older players. Simon Tinley who is the school’s head of tennis said: “Not only is Max a very talented tennis player but he has a good temperament. I think he should definitely be aiming for Junior Wimbledon.”
One of Max’s more immediate goals is winning the national championship of which he says confidently: “That would be great. I’m perfectly capable.” Rafa Nadal is Max’s ultimate tennis idol whose immense success he’d like to emulate. He says of Nadal: “He has a good work ethic and always gives 100 per cent energy.” Clearly Max is talented and we’ve no doubt if work ethic and attitude mean anything in tennis, he is perfectly equipped to follow in his hero’s footsteps. Watch this space!