Scott Clayton has been determined from a young age to make it to the highest level of sport, and now that he has made it, he wants to stay there.
I spoke to the tennis star about his career, how it all started and how he hopes to contribute to Jersey sport in the future.
Q: Have you always been in and around sport? Who introduced you to tennis?
Clayton: I have always been sporty since a young age. I used to play football a bit, but my parents introduced me to tennis at when I was young so I have always been in and around tennis. It was fun at the club, playing with my family and friends.
Q: Who did you enjoy watching and look up to in the tennis world?
Clayton: Lleyton Hewitt. His grit and determination attracted me to his games. I loved watching him when I was younger, and feel his attitude is one which any youngster should aspire to and take inspiration from.
Q: Did you enjoy playing tennis in Jersey?
Clayton: It was always great. It was more of a social thing in Jersey, and it was like being part of a family. Unfortunately tennis isn’t as big in Jersey nowadays for some reason. Nonetheless, when I am back on the island I love going back to the club and catching up with everyone there.
Q: Were you always a doubles player?
Clayton: Obviously, growing up as a young player I tried both singles and doubles. I was quite good at singles, being National Champion at u18 level. I represented Great Britain in singles too and played at Wimbledon at a junior level. However, I realised that I was more likely to make it as a professional in doubles, as I finished playing singles when I was ranked 680th.
Q: Was there a time when you knew you were going to make it?
Clayton: I wouldn’t say there was a moment in time as such. It was a strange process and it just happened through hard work. I always concentrate on improving as a player rather than looking at results of matches, which many people do. International tennis is hard, you literally have to start from the bottom and work your way up. You need to concentrate on the process, rather than the outcome, in my opinion.
Q: What was the step up in quality like, compared to Jersey?
Clayton: I moved to the UK when I was 11. My parents came over a lot when I was younger which made the move easier. So, I would have to say as time went on, and I got used to the quality of tennis, it was fine. The biggest difference was the fact that there was specific training times for both gym and court. Also, Jersey is very isolated, so opportunities are not as big when it comes to the variety of players you can play, its usually the same players week in week out. However, I have no regrets, it’s got me where I am today.
Q: Do you have any superstitions you keep to before a game?
Clayton: Good question. A lot of people do, but not sure if I do personally. I mean, I always put my left shoe on before my right, but I do that any time, not just before a tennis match. I always warm up with music, no specific songs, just put it on shuffle to put me in the zone. If I do something, and I go on to win the game then I tend to keep doing it.
Q: What’s it like to play at Wimbledon?
Clayton: It’s amazing as it’s what I have worked my whole life for. When you are there, you are there to do a job and win matches so you don’t take it in as much. Junior Wimbeldon did help me, as I wasn’t focused on the match and didn’t play well, so I learned from that and now go there to win matches, trying not to become caught up in the hype. I give my dad a list of names whom I want to invite and he sorts that out for me, and I put my phone on airplane mode on the day of the match, so that I don’t get distracted. It’s by far the best experience for me, with all of the history that surrounds it. I am very fortunate.
Q: What is your fondest memory in Tennis?
Clayton: There have been a few. Being National Champion at u18 level is up there, along with representing Great Britain. The buzz around winning games at Wimbledon is hard to beat as well. I have many good memories, and I hope to gain more.
Q: You play in many different places? How do you find that? Where is your favourite place to play?
Clayton: My favourite places to go are Dubai or Qatar. I have to say it is the toughest part of the job, as I am always away from those closest to me. People who know me, know I like the home competitions in England. It is a privilege though as you get to see the world and it is another part of the job that you will look back upon and be grateful you did it.
Q: What are your ambitions for the future?
Clayton: My short term goals are to push my rankings back up as I am just back from injury. I need to keep pushing myself to be the best player I can be, and see where that takes me. Long term, I would like to go back to Jersey and look to promote tennis, to increase the number of kids playing again. I would also love to help out in some way with Jersey sport as a whole, and do what I can to promote sport on the island.
I enjoyed talking to Scott, who, despite his high level of sporting achievements, still fondly remembers his roots and looks to come back and help however he can within Jersey sport.
I wish him all the best for the future.