Hutchins on track for January comeback
Originally published on: 08/10/13 00:00
Hutchins, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December last year, announced he was in remission this summer after six months of chemotherapy treatment.
The 28-year-old is back in training and will spend the off-season in Miami as he targets a return to action at the start of next season with partner Colin Fleming.
“I hit some balls the day I was told I was clear at the end of July but up until then I’d done nothing,” Hutchins told tennishead. “My body was exhausted and I didn’t feel like I wanted to train but even if I did I was told I wasn’t allowed because my immune system was low and that could set me back and that could put a dent in my chemotherapy plan.”
Hutchins, who enjoyed the most successful year of his career in 2012, finishing the season ranked No.28 in doubles, has slipped to No.141 in the world having not played since last November.
However, he has been training at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton and at the All England Club and believes he is getting back to his best.
“I feel good, I feel strong again and even though I’m probably not my mind says I’m close to where I was before,” said Hutchins, who is yet to decide whether he will play in Brisbane or Doha in the opening week of the new season.
“There’s no reason why I can’t get back to that kind of fitness and that’s my goal – I’ll be pushing myself to be as fit as I was back then.
“It’s something I’ve really looked forward to. When I was out I really missed doing that training block it’s something that as a player that you enjoy; the team atmosphere and training hard together.”
Titles at Delray Beach and Eastbourne helped Hutchins and Fleming climb the rankings last year and a strong run in Asia last autumn put them in contention for a place at the O2. However, a second round defeat in Paris dashed their hopes of qualifying for the season finale, a defeat that proved to be Hutchins’ last competitive match.
“That’s our biggest goal,” Hutchins said. “Last year we had an opportunity to get in but it all came down to the Paris Masters. There are always a couple of teams that are battling for that one spot at the end of the year and we were one of them and that was very exciting.
“But we need to play better and have more success earlier in the year to cement our place to make sure we are there. If you can finish the year at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals you are pretty happy with your year no matter how many first rounds you have. Even if you only win one tournament, if you win one Slam it’s been a pretty good year if you make it though to the end there.”
Hutchins spoke to tennishead at White Hart Lane Sports Centre in North London, where new-look courts were unveiled as part of the Barclays Spaces for Sports programme.
“You’ve got the court colour, the branding on the courts, this is what we have on Tour, this is what we are used to,” Hutchins said of the newly-refurbished courts. “To have the logos on the court makes it special, they’ve put so much thought into it and have tried to make it identical to the court at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
“There are a lot of kids here who know who won the event last year and who is playing this year so it makes them more aware of what they are trying to achieve which is being there at the tournament, not just as a fan but playing in 10 or 15 years’ time."
The new look courts with their Barclays ATP World Tour Finals logos and court markings were revamped by Barclays as part of its Barclays Spaces for Sports programme, a community sports programme aimed at using sport to revitalise disadvantaged communities as well as to tackle key social issues.