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FLEMING LOOKING AHEAD TO SUMMER
By Stuart Fraser
Wednesday 28th April 2010
There are inevitably both ups and downs for professional sportspeople. For Colin Fleming, the feeling of both came within a 24 hour period in Lithuania in March.
Scotland’s No.1 doubles player was playing in the Davis Cup for Great Britain against Lithuania alongside regular partner Ken Skupski. It was the first time they had played together in the competition, and it was an impressive debut for the pair, winning the match to put Britain in a commanding position in the tie.
However, two singles defeats for Dan Evans and James Ward the following day condemned Britain to an embarrassing loss against a country whose annual budget would not even cover one day’s worth of the budget of Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association. It was a huge comedown for Fleming, who along with Skupski, was on cloud nine the previous day.
“We both love being involved in Davis Cup so to play together and win was a great feeling,” he says. “We were obviously gutted the following day when we lost the tie. Again though we're confident the experience of being favourites in a best of five doubles match and winning will help us in the future.”
It has not been the best of seasons so far for the 25-year-old, from Linlithgow, who is now regularly playing at the top level on the World Tour after coming back to the professional game in 2008, after a break of two years in which he completed his studies at Stirling University to gain a degree in economics and finance, followed by a brief period working for Scottish Power.
After an impressive start to the year with a semi-final run in India and their first grand slam match win in Australia, both Fleming and Skupski have suffered injuries which has made it difficult to get any sort of consistency, reflected by a number of first round exits.
“I felt we started the year well making the semi finals in Chennai then winning our first Grand Slam match at the Aussie Open,” says Fleming. “We both felt we could have played better in the match we lost in Australia and I think that maybe hurt a bit more than we thought.”
“We had a tough schedule after that and in hindsight maybe should have taken more time to get fresh mentally again. There is no doubt that there are positives to take from our start to the year and we're looking forward to the challenge of the busy summer period ahead.”
The grass court season in Britain is when tennis is at its highest profile in this country and it is an exciting time for the British players who are eager to impress under the spotlight, especially at Wimbledon. It was only just last year when Fleming and Skupski made a name for themselves with an impressive victory against America’s Bryan Brothers at the AEGON Championships in London.
And with that sort of experience under their belt, Fleming is hopeful for a successful summer on the grass. “We always look forward to the grass court season as it is on home soil and it’s also a surface that suits our game and that we've had success on,” the Scot says.
“We're realistic that we can have a good run on the grass but there are also a lot of other top teams that will aiming to do just that. Hopefully the experiences of winning a round in Australia, playing Davis Cup together and competing regularly on the ATP tour will help us along the way.”
And after that Davis Cup defeat by Lithuania earlier this year, Britain will be hoping to return to winning ways when they take on Turkey at Eastbourne in July. After the departure of captain John Lloyd, Scot Leon Smith, Andy Murray’s former coach, is now at the helm and Fleming is confident that his fellow countryman will do a good job.
“I know Leon fairly well and know that he brings a great energy and enthusiasm to everything he does,” he says. “In Davis Cup that will help create a great team atmosphere. That combined with his ability to motivate and manage players individually will really help bring the best out of the team.”