Upon winning the Australian Open Junior Boys doubles title with good friend Marc Polmans in 2015, Jake Delaney was feeling on top of the world.
In eerily similar circumstances to our latest Wimbledon doubles champions Matt Ebden and Max Purcell, Jake and Marc won four out of their five matches in match tie breakers and saved match points in several of them. The final was another tense affair with many twists and turns with Jake and Marc coming back from a set down against future top ten player Hubert Hurkacz and Alex Molcan to clinch the title.
This was a remarkable display of calmness, courage, resilience, and perseverance. All of which have been essential elements in Jake’s journey ever since.
After first picking up a racquet at the tender age of four, Jake quickly discovered a love and passion for the game. He began to practice seriously from the age of seven when his dad, Marcus would take him out on the court for two hour practice sessions before school. Jake never saw this as a burden or a chore, in fact he loved every moment of being on the court and it was these early sessions that helped shape his appetite for hard work and his pursuit of improvement.
This work ethic and improvement soon lead to Jake winning many local tournaments and his efforts were rewarded with selection in squads who would travel overseas for several months at a time to participate in tournaments and get a taste of life as a professional tennis player.
Jake continued to improve in all areas of his game. He became technically proficient, physically fit, and strong and always had the mindset of wanting to improve. Jake was also a gifted student, and he used this intelligence to develop strong tactical acumen which he put to good use in his matches often defeating opponents with his clever use of tactics. The years of hard work and travel were rewarded with Jake reaching an ITF world junior ranking of number 35. This saw him eligible to enter in all the junior grand slam events which was an amazing experience.
When his junior career had finished, Jake began the process of transitioning onto the ATP tour. Initially he handled the transition reasonably comfortably as many of the lower ranked players were of a similar age and ability. He would soon find the higher he climbed the rankings, the bigger the challenges would become. Guys were bigger and stronger which made each match physically more demanding. There was more depth than what he had experienced in the junior ranks which meant there was no such thing as an easy match and any loss of focus would almost certainly result in a loss.
In just his second year on the tour Jake was at an ATP ranking of 750. He was on an upward trajectory when the physical demands eventually took a toll on his body and injuries followed.
Firstly, there was a ligament tear in his wrist which kept him out for several months. Desperate to return to the tour he came back but realised it had not recovered properly but played his way through the pain as well as he could for as long as he could. He then suffered a labral tear in his hip which required surgery and bulging discs in his back.
The back problems have been the source of the most reoccurring pain and injuries getting to a stage where he could not sit down for more than a 20-minute period without experiencing severe pain and waking up with a stiff back every morning.
To get himself pain free and back on the court, Jake enlisted the services of a biomechanics trainer who has helped immeasurably. He has worked diligently for some time now and as a result his hips are strong, there is no more back, or wrist pain and he can step on the court knowing he can handle the workload.
This hard work and dedication recently saw Jake make his return to tournament tennis at the ITF 15K in Caloundra last week playing in qualifying. After winning his first two matches, he pushed the top seed and world number 371 coming into the week Dane Sweeny all the way in an indication that he certainly belongs at that level going down 3-6, 6-7. Sweeny going onto win the title coming from qualies.
Jake still has the goal of wanting to improve each time he steps on the court. Success looks different for everyone but if he got the opportunity to play a full calendar of tournaments, play with a free mind knowing his body will hold up, improve his ranking, and play in the grand slams that would be an amazing accomplishment.
Despite the injury setbacks Jake’s love for the game has never diminished. He has always been a hard working and humble young man with a steely determination. When approached for this story his reply was “why do you want to talk to me, my story is only half done”. With an attitude like that you can rest assured he will leave no stone unturned to achieve his goals.