The Bumpy Tennis Road by Melbourne’s Marc Polmans

Polmans finished the season without a coach and suffered from left ankle pain during that time, particularly on serve.

He took all of December off to see if that would solve the problem and it initially worked before the pain returned during the Australian tennis summer.

Marc Polmans wants to make up for lost time after an ankle injury.

Marc Polmans wants to make up for lost time after an ankle injury.Credit:George Sal/Tennis Australia

Meanwhile, a new coaches’ union started up. Polmans turned to his brother Greg, who was once a promising junior himself whose career dreams ended with a series of injuries, including a stress fracture in his back and shoulder problems.

The benefits were numerous: Greg had completed a coaching course, knew his siblings’ game inside out and could serve as a hitting partner and help alleviate the loneliness on tour that Australian tennis stars feel like everyone else.

“I know I can trust him completely and that he won’t leave me for another player, so that’s a positive,” said Polmans, laughing.

“A lot of Aussies struggle a bit when they’re abroad for months so having someone close by to share the grind with definitely helps and keeps me in a good mood on the court.

“The Aussie boys will all say that travel is the biggest challenge. We all like to play tournaments and games but the travel is brutal because we can’t get home on a five hour flight – it’s more like 15 or 16 hours which forces us to stay abroad for months.”

Polmans has won three Grand Slam main draw games.

Polmans has won three Grand Slam main draw games.Credit:Getty Images

Polmans cited fellow Australians Jason Kubler, James Duckworth and Max Purcell – who partnered Matt Ebden in last year’s Wimbledon doubles title – as others taking friends or loved ones on tour, sometimes at the expense of a coach to fix the blues along the way .

But back to the ankle. He began consulting surgeons last January and continued playing for a month, but the message was clear: the problem wouldn’t go away without surgery.

In layman’s terms, a bone in Polmans’ left ankle had grown too quickly and was rubbing against another every time he landed from a serve. It’s called ankle impingement.

He went under the knife and then spent a month on crutches with the initial goal of being ready to play at last year’s French Open. But he wasn’t ready.

Nearly four months passed before Polmans decided to extend his rehabilitation to six to qualify for a protected 208 ranking. It’s a temporary mechanism to help players return to the tour more easily after an injury.

He’s using the protected rankings to break into the Australian Open qualifiers this week and can do so again at the French Open, but after that he’s on his own.

Polman’s current ranking rose to nearly 800 while he was sidelined, but he will be close to the top 300 again as soon as Monday after a strong return at the second tier of Challengers.

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The man known for his legionnaire’s hat will be one of 29 Australians looking to win three qualifiers to reach the peloton at Melbourne Park while chasing his top 100 goal.

It would be his fourth appearance if successful, having scored a wildcard entry from 2019-21.

“It’s a big mental challenge to improve and get through three qualifying rounds,” said Polmans.

“Last year [at the Australian Open]I didn’t have a proper pre-season due to struggling with my ankle problem, but this year I’m fitter and ready to support game after game.

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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/from-injury-setbacks-to-coaches-walking-away-the-bumpy-road-of-melbourne-s-marc-polmans-20230108-p5cb2a.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport The Bumpy Tennis Road by Melbourne’s Marc Polmans

Ryan Sederquist

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