A year ago, Evan Hoyt was preparing for Wimbledon and an impact that would propel him into the sporting spotlight. But with the 2020 tournament cancelled, Wales’ No.1-ranked player is having to find different ways to keep busy this spring as he told Owen Morgan.
With the world tennis tour on shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, Welsh star Evan Hoyt has been keeping busy by making guides on mental toughness and staying motivated during the crisis.
So it’s no surprise the man from Llanelli is maintaining a positive attitude despite being unable to continue his rise up the world rankings or earn any prize money.
Hoyt, who reached the mixed doubles quarter-finals on his Wimbledon debut last summer, is philosophical about being denied the chance to return to SW19 this summer following last week’s cancellation of the 2020 tournament.
Asked whether he had hoped to compete at Wimbledon again this year, Hoyt said: “Yes, for sure, that’s always the goal, but I may not have been given the chance to compete at Wimbledon, so it is what it is. I’m not worrying too much about that.”
Hoyt prefers to look on the bright side saying he is far more fortunate that many others as he rides out the coronavirus storm in Portugal where his girlfriend lives.
To date, the Portuguese nation has been less severely affected by the virus than neighbouring Spain.
All non-essential shops in Portugal are closed and while citizens are advised to act responsibly, no mandatory lockdown had been imposed when Hoyt spoke to Dai Sport.
The 25-year-old said: “I’m in Portugal where my girlfriend lives. Everything’s good and we’re staying safe. We’ve not gone into lockdown, so we’re allowed out.
“Pretty much everything apart from supermarkets and pharmacies are closed, but otherwise we have the freedom to go out for a walk. I’m fortunate, I’ve even been able to practice some tennis while I’ve been here.”
With no matches or tournaments to play in, there is no prize money to compete for. But once again, Hoyt, who is ranked 445 in the world at singles and 273 in doubles, is taking a positive view.
“Obviously, I don’t have the same expenses as I would if I was having to travel for tournaments, so I’m actually living very cheaply at the moment which is a good thing.”
And last season’s spectacular run to the Wimbledon mixed doubles quarter-finals, alongside playing partner Eden Silva, means he is in a better position financially than he otherwise might have been.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to save up a little bit,” he said. “Especially with the Wimbledon prize money I got last year, so I’m not in any immediate financial stress, but it’s still at the back of my mind, for sure.”
Hoyt is no stranger to an enforced break from tennis. Having enjoyed a successful junior career which saw him help Great Britain win the Junior Davis Cup, the right-hander suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2016, which put him out of the game for 18 months.
During that time, Hoyt kept himself busy by taking an Open University course and also got involved in coaching with Tennis Wales.
And he is taking the same proactive approach during the current break in his career, which had been blossoming since his return to the game.
“To be honest, I’m dealing with it really well,” says Hoyt. “I’m enjoying the break because I’m able to do some other things that I normally wouldn’t have the time to do. I’ve got a lot of little projects on the go, so everything’s good to be honest.”
One of those projects is his website – peakperformancetennis.co.uk – where he has been publishing free downloadable guides and blogs on mental toughness and staying motivated during the current climate.
Hoyt says: “I’ve been doing a lot of website stuff and I’ve been creating some YouTube videos.
“I’ve made a guide on mental toughness, which I’ve released free on my site, so those are the type of things I’ve been doing with my time.
— Evan Hoyt (@HoytEvan) April 5, 2020
“To be honest, it’s quite nice because I’m always on the move. It’s nice being in one place, being here with my girlfriend in Portugal.
“Normally, I don’t get a chance to see her for more than four or five days at a time, so it’s great to be able to spend a load of time with her.”
However, Hoyt aims to be ready when the time comes to return to the court and re-focus on his ambition to become a top 100 player – whenever that may be.
“I’m sure, like with everyone else, it will take a little bit of time to get back into match fitness and get back to match sharpness and that mental state.
“We’ll see how it goes. Who knows how long this break is going to be?”