I have a career high world ranking of 20 and I am currently around the top 35 mark in singles and top 25 in doubles after a year that hasn't exactly gone to plan. However, the experience I have gained this year I believe will be invaluable looking forward.
I have now come to the end of my season and my team of trusted coaches and I are putting together my blueprint for next year.
We'll discuss our technical on court changes, what I want to be more powerful at in the gym and, mentally, how I can be stronger. A lot of athletes dislike this time of year. However, I feel this is when I get to put in the most amount of training and can really go all out without having to taper down for tournaments. It is also great on a personal level as it is probably the longest block of the year I get at home to spend time with friends and family.
A usual day for me is quite tricky to explain, as every day of the week is different. I usually start bright and early at 5:45am, three days a week. I train at 7am due to court time, my technical coach's commitments and just my general love for early mornings (puzzling indeed). There's nothing worse than getting to training feeling tired and then finishing the session when I am starting to wake up. I try to beat slow morning starts as much as I can by having my first breakfast of the day bright and early. I cannot go out the door without cereal, but I'm not a huge fan of those ultra healthy oats and dried fruit combinations. The early sessions are technical with my coach, where at present we are changing a few aspects of my game so that hopefully next year I will have a lot more weapons to play with.
I finish this session around 8:30-9am and it is then time for my second breakfast, sadly not a full English, but scrambled eggs or a protein shake. Then I jump in the shower before I head off to my university lectures. I count myself lucky as I only have four lectures a week this year, which are two hours each. However, the amount of work I have to do in preparation for these lectures and my assessments is intense and makes up for the lack of contact hours in university. Studying for my degree, combined with my training schedule, is definitely comparable to a full-time job.
So, after a morning lecture or a morning of independent working (my lecturers reading this will be equally as impressed as they are shocked), I head off to see my strength and conditioning team. My 'team' is pretty much my strength and conditioning coach, Bridgitte, and her intern Irish (no prizes for guessing where he's from), who I have the pleasure of seeing four times a week. At the moment we are at the early stage of a big strength block, which was something I really enjoyed last winter. Although I've never felt so much pain before, it has given me a great strength basis which I hope I can build on this year. After about an hour and a half of this, which also consist of lots of short interval pushing drills (the ones that make you feel like you will be sick) that is me done with those evil, but lovely, people for the day.
Then I have an hour or so rest before a big and healthy - of course - lunch. I am currently on a high protein diet where I have to try and eat 110g of protein per day and have cut out pasta from my diet due to it being full of slow release carbs. This, for a student who likes to think he is a great cook but realistically isn't going to be on master chef any time soon, is quite inconvenient; however, the extensive range of meals I can now create with chicken is quite impressive.
Finally I move on to my late sessions of the day, I do these twice a week from 8-10pm, which is never nice when you have to be up at 5:45am the next day, but I try to keep that to a minimum. These sessions are again on court, however, they are a lot more relaxed and I tend to do match play where I get to put into practice the things I work on with my coach, and keep my match play to a high level. Match play is crucial, especially in the off season, and I can have some fun in these which is always good. If you don't enjoy what you are doing you will never succeed.
I also have probably two other on court sessions per week with other players and hitting partners as well as physiotherapy sessions and sport psychology sessions, which are all vital to my development.
Away from training, I'm really looking forward to 2012. I'm really excited about the BT Storytellers project and what the next year has in store. I really can't begin to imagine how big an event it will be. I'm sure from January the media will begin to go crazy about it and the closer it gets the more exciting I'm sure it will get for all of the public.
Being from London it is so close to home, which is a once in a lifetime opportunity for everybody. Being lucky enough to be friends and training partners with a good few of the athletes that will be involved in a few of the sports will make it extra special for me. Seeing how hard they are training day in, day out and their excitement at reaching their dreams of representing Great Britain at the Olympic and Paralympic Games really inspires me to keep pushing on and hopefully reach these heights in a few years' time myself. This will be the first Paralympics I will have actual links with and a real connection to, and I will try and draw as much from this experience as possible for my future. I can only wish every single athlete the best of luck and really hope the whole of the country gets behind the team, whether you are at the events or watching on the television, as an athlete knowing you are being supported and people wanting you to do well is the biggest encouragement you can possibly get.
Wheelchair tennis player Liam O'Reilly is a BT Storyteller. BT is the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and title sponsor of the BT Paralympic World Cup. For more details click here. To follow Liam on twitter click here