Kettering’s Dermot Bailey is in confident mood as he builds up to the defence of his wheelchair tennis National title at Oxstalls Indoor Tennis Centre in Gloucester this weekend.
The 22-year-old, who was crowned National Champion last year for the first time, has enjoyed a stellar 2016 including reaching a career best ranking of 38 and winning two ITF Futures titles, reaching two ITF 3 Singles finals and winning the ITF 3 Doubles title at the Invacare Swedish Open.
Bailey also visited Rio as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme in September where he experienced all aspects of a Paralympics, including the Village, the media spotlight and mixed zone.
Athletes also took part in a curriculum outside the Games and alongside their normal training, with lessons about nutrition, media, anti-doping, competition planning and goal setting.
Preparing for the defence of his title Bailey said: “Training has been going really well in the past few weeks and I’m feeling confident that I will be able to perform at my best this weekend.
“Hopefully that will mean I have a good chance of defending my titles.”
Bailey will face stiff competition at the National Championships in the shape of Rio 2016 Paralympian Dave Phillipson and will also be joined in the men’s draw by 2012 National Champion Scott Smith and former GB International Kevin Simpson.
Bailey, who is aiming for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo has enjoyed increased support this year from local businesses including Hevey Building Supplies which has enabled him to increase his training and play in more tournaments.
“I’ve been working really hard in training, upping my sessions and competing in more tournaments this year,” added Bailey who combines training with full-time work at Kettering General Hospital.
“It can be difficult to juggle work and training and tennis is an expensive sport so I’m really grateful for the support I’ve had from the likes of Hevey and also Bio Synergy whose backing has enabled me to train more and compete in more tournaments such as the two weeks I spent in America in January.
“All the hard work is paying off and I’ll keep putting in the hours and keep heading in the right direction next year.”