A few weeks ago, the tennis world was shocked to hear of the death of former Australian prodigy Todd Reid. He was only 34.
Reid was tipped to be the next big thing when he claimed the 2002 Wimbledon junior boys’ singles title, in a field that included the likes of Marcos Baghdatis and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Reid’s time as a professional, however, did not go to plan. Injuries and glandular fever forced him to retire in 2005, at the age of 21. Reid was unable to fulfil the immense promise he had shown as a junior – a fact he struggled to come to terms with.
When Luke Saville took the 2011 Wimbledon junior boys’ singles crown in 2011, he became the first Australian to do so since Reid. Saville, who won the doubles event at the $150,000 Bengaluru Open here on Friday, remembers Reid as an exceptional talent.
“It was shattering to hear the news of his death. When I won junior Wimbledon, comparisons were made between the two of us. I actually played against Reid in a couple of Futures events a few years ago when he was trying to make a comeback, but he was out of shape by that stage," Saville said.
"Reid was an extremely gifted player as a junior before injuries took him down. He perhaps felt that he could have had a more successful tennis career, which possibly led to mental issues. I didn’t know Reid personally, so I can’t comment about his particular case."
"Maybe there is a lack of support for tennis players after their careers are over. Tennis players live in a bubble, where all we see are hotel rooms and tennis courts. So when the time comes for you to face real life, it is tough."
— Struggle in making the step up —
Much like Reid, Saville has struggled to make the transition from the junior to the senior circuit. He reached a career-high world ranking of 152 in 2015 but has since slipped to 471.
“For whatever reason, I’ve found it hard to take that next step from the juniors. There are a lot of good players out there trying to grab a top-100 spot, which is where you need to be to make a living in tennis,” the 24-year-old said.
Tournament victories, like the one he has achieved here partnering Max Purcell, helps Saville stay positive and motivated. “Wins like this make me very happy. I’d rather it be a singles title, but you have to start somewhere. Hopefully, the confidence gained from this doubles win will carry over to the Pune Challenger, where I am competing in the singles qualifiers,” Saville said, “I’m trying to find my own path in the tennis world.”