AIDAN McHugh is no longer just the new kid on the training block. Flying out right now to sun-kissed Florida for a third successive December, the Scottish teenager has grown accustomed to mixing with the likes of Andy and Jamie Murray at this time of year on tennis courts anywhere between the Everglades and Biscayne Bay.
Thanks to Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, the arrangement has even been further formalised this year, with McHugh and his teenage pal Jack Draper among the emerging generation of players from these islands earning invites to join singles stars Kyle Edmund, Dan Evans, Cam Norrie at a special LTA training camp at the IMG-owned Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy out in the Sunshine State.
There should be time there to brush shoulders with Jamie, who will be doing his own doubles camp in the company of long-time coach Louis Cayer, and his mentor Andy, who announced recently he is likely to move from his rehab base in Philadelphia to undergo his usual extensive pre-season preparations at the
Crandon Park tennis centre in Miami.
“I’m not sure exactly who will be where, when, everyone is doing their own schedule, but I’ve heard there is going to be a good group of us,” McHugh told Herald Sport. “I have been there before and it has literally got everything, the facilities are amazing.
“But this new set-up will be great,” he added. “It has certainly never happened when I have been around. But I have spent quite a lot of time with all of these guys now.
“I know Cam well from other stuff, a few years ago. I don’t know what Andy is doing for the whole of those weeks, he usually does his stuff at Crandon Park, but hopefully I will get to see him and train with him a little bit out there.
“It is nice to spend time with guys who are a little bit older, a little bit ahead of you in the world rankings. I’m just looking forward to working really hard over the next few weeks to set me up for the New Year.”
As it happens, McHugh brought an end to his competitive schedule with a couple of huge wins. Or McHUGE wins, to go by the short-hand from which he has been known by Judy and the rest of the Murray clan since he was a primary school age player with plenty of potential.
That is to say that the 18-year-old, a beaten finalist in the Australian Open boys singles, back in January is still celebrating the first two senior titles of his career.
They came in two separate $15,000 Futures events out in Kuwait, separated by a week. While the money wasn’t exactly life changing, it was enough for him to treat his older brother and his pals, while the ranking points earned took him to No.501 in the ATP Tour rankings.
For the record, this currently makes him the ninth highest ranked player in the world still aged 18 or under, even if a further layer of complication from an imminent change to the rankings system will see him drop off the ATP grid, his ranking points, all garnered from $15,000 tournaments, converted to ITF points instead.
While it is plausible that he could earn a wild card into the main draw of Wimbledon if he continues his current form, McHugh can’t worry too much about that.
He puts part of his recent upswing down to keeping himself in the moment mentally and not thinking too far ahead. As long as this continues, he knows his career is only trending in one direction.
“I am obviously happy to be ranked around 500, but I’m more just happy to see that if you focus on yourself and try to improve all the time and get results then the ranking takes care of itself,” he said.
“I will try and play a few bigger tournaments if I can, I just need to try to keep proving myself at each level,” he added. “A wild card for Wimbledon is not really something that I am thinking about at all. I am just trying to keep improving, hopefully my ranking is a lot better this time next year.
“There weren’t wild celebrations – I was playing the next day or something after the first one anyway,” he added. “The last one was really nice, though, because that was me finished for the year, and it was a really nice way to finish. It made the travel home a bit easier.
“Andy messaged me after the first week, because that was obviously my first title ever. He saw the result and just said great work. He keeps calling me McHUGE, which is something Judy has called me ever since the early days when I was just a wee guy.
“Then he sent me another one after I won the second tournament. Hopefully I will be able to maybe see him soon. As for the prize money, let’s just say that I’m not quite ready to retire yet! I bought dinner for my brother and a few friends, that is about as mental as it has got. I’m just keeping the money, not splashing the cash just yet!”
Source : HeraldScotland