Matt Ebden officially started his 2020 pre-season last week – but it will be an off-season training program with a difference.
Ebden picked the racquet back up following close to two months off after bringing an early end to a tough 2019 season.
The 31-year-old recently returned from a holiday with his wife Kim in the north of the State in which they took in Kalbarri, Shark Bay and Monkey Mia before celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary.
And the coming months will be all about continuing the enjoyment for the WA star.
Overplaying through the middle of the year after he was sidelined by a foot injury left Ebden needing a break.
“I got to the point where I wasn’t really enjoying it as much as I should have been, being able to give my all on the court,” Ebden told emageogroup.com.
“In other years I’ve usually played right through until November.
“A few of my friends, coaches or other people and even fans were messaging asking if I was injured. I was like: ‘Actually, no, I’m fine physically, I’m all good, fit and healthy. I just needed a break.’
“I just was a bit burnt out after, not only overplaying, but also missing three to four months with a foot injury.”
Ebden said he has been hitting the ball well so far in training.
“I didn’t want to rush back into eight-hour training days of five hours on court and three hours of gym and just wear myself out pretty quickly,” he said. “I just wanted to sort of see how I was feeling out on the court. I was feeling really good and hitting the ball great, almost better than ever so I was like: ‘OK, no problem there’.
“I’m going to structure my off-season slightly differently. A lot of beach stuff, like sand dune stuff, some water skiing for leg strength, outdoor biking maybe in the hills.
“It’s great to change it up for your body and your mind. I love being at the beach too, so that’s another fun thing for me to do – mix tennis and beach training – work until you’re nearly cramping and then go for a swim in the ocean for recovery.
“Of course, I will be doing a lot in the gym as well but just making sure I’m having fun with everything I’m doing.”
Ebden’s limited playing schedule this season has seen him drift outside the top 200.
But he has no problem with going through qualifying for the Australian Open and spending some time working his way back through the Challenger Tour.
“The main thing is that I want to be playing tennis, wherever it is,” he said. “If it’s at a local club, or if it’s the final of a grand slam, it’s the same. I need to be playing for the love of playing and competing in the sport.
“We’re both still really keen to travel and give it everything, give it our best and make the most of it because I know it won’t last forever.
“It’s 15 years now I’ve been more or less travelling and on tour and I’ve gone through plenty of patches like this.
“Normally it’s a few weeks and you feel really hungry and ready to go but this time I needed more time. It’s been awesome. It’s almost been the highlight of my life – the last two or three months, being able to be at home and do all the things we love with the people we love and care about.”
Ebden has also been able to immerse himself in the local tennis community.
“I’m passionate about being part of the future of tennis and really getting Perth and WA up to speed in a world class level in the future years of where I think it should or could be and I definitely want to be someone to sort of lead that,” he said.
“I’ve just had to check my motivations for why I still want to play. I definitely know I still want to play but I need to be clear and conscious of those reasons and what they are.
“It isn’t really enough anymore to just play for me and money and achievements. I’ve just been challenging myself to find slightly bigger or new purposes or directions or things to align with and play from and represent. That’s started to excite me.”