Melbourne, Australia, 7 December 2020 | Leigh Rogers

Marc Polmans recorded many new highs in a career-best 2020 season. The 23-year-old Victorian achieved a career-high singles ranking of No.116 in October and scored his first Grand Slam main draw singles wins – advancing to the second round at both the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

Polmans, who has his sights set on a top-100 breakthrough in 2021, is an exciting Aussie player to watch this summer …

How did you get started in tennis?

I started playing tennis when I was four in South Africa. My parents both played badminton – which is similar to tennis, just on a smaller court. They put me into tennis lessons and I’m really happy they did. I’ve really enjoyed tennis from an early age and that is one of the big reasons why we moved to Australia (Polmans was 10 when the family relocated to Melbourne).

Who has been most influential in your tennis career so far?

My first coach Tony Vermaak, who coached me from the age of four to 10. He lives in Australia now too, so I still see him quite regularly and he watches all my matches when I’m in Melbourne. He was self-taught and just has a big passion for tennis. He taught me a lot of things and gave me good variety in my game.

Who were your childhood idols?

Gael Monfils and Roger Federer were my two idols growing up. Monfils is one of those players you can just watch for hours. Also Roger – I know everyone says him, but he is the reason why so many people do play tennis. He makes it look so easy and he is probably the best tennis player ever.

What has been your proudest moment on court?

Making the Australian Open semifinals in doubles with Andrew Whittington in 2017. That was one of the happiest moments in my tennis career so far. It’s not every day you get to be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam – and to play with a good friend in our first time together and beat the No.1 pair in the world (Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert) was also super special.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

To try and stay injury free. From a young age, most of the coaches I’ve had have driven into me how important it is to look after your body’s recovery. I, thankfully, have not had any big injuries yet in my career. Unfortunately, my younger brother he hasn’t been quite the same. For juniors, I feel it is important to really focus on the recovery after training – as well as your hydration, your food, everything you do that keeps your development going in the right way.

Biggest challenge you’ve overcome on your path to pro success?

Trying to transition from the ITF Futures to the ATP Challengers. It’s not easy to get through that period. I was playing Futures tournaments in South Africa and all parts of Europe trying to get my ranking up so I could play in the Challengers. You can’t really be a pro by playing Futures. I spent two and a half years on the Futures tour trying to break out of it, so I was pretty happy when I started to be able to play Challengers. I feel like that’s a pretty big barrier for most players to try and pass.

How did you manage school while developing your tennis?

I did home schooling from year eight, so I did a lot of school work from home with the help of my parents. Then I finished my schooling at the National Academy in Melbourne. I’ve been pretty lucky on the schooling side of things, as it is not easy to balance both tennis and study. I definitely found it tough to do schooling when I was away overseas. Thankfully a lot of other players were in the same situation as me, so we could help each other out. I think if I had of been doing normal schooling, it would have been really tough.

Do you have any pre-match superstitions?

I do some physical work to get the blood going and my feet moving before a match, but I don’t really have any superstitions. I just need to make sure I have a solid physical warm-up before the match or else I don’t feel ready.

If you weren’t a tennis player, what career would you have pursued?

I would have chosen something in sport. I played soccer up until I was 10, so I might have tried to be a soccer player. I was always much better at tennis though.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing tennis?

I like to spend time with my younger brother. I don’t usually get to see him because he’s in America doing college. Also spending time with my two dogs, I don’t get to see them very often either. I like to play table tennis too, my brother and I play a lot when we have some spare time at home.

Who are your best friends on tour?

Aleksandar Vukic is one of my good buddies. Evan King from America is a really nice guy and Mikael Torpegaard from Denmark is one of my top buddies too.

Tennis takes you to many places, what’s one that you remember most?

I played an ATP 250 in Umag, Croatia a couple of years ago and I feel like that is one of the coolest places I’ve been. The tournament’s matches were played mostly at night and there were great crowds. It was like a holiday destination with great beaches and lakes.

How would your friends and family describe you?

My family would describe me as pretty determined to be the best tennis player I can be. My mum is a determined lady, so she really helps me to stay motivated and keep working towards my goals. My friends would say I’m a laid-back guy off the court, but really competitive in any game situation.

Who is your dream doubles partner?

I’d really love to play doubles with Rafa (Nadal). It would be great to hear his tactical view of the game. I’m sure he’d have good insights. Just to be on the court with Rafa would be special. I’ve never got to play against him, but I have been able to train with him during the Australian Open. To be in a competitive situation with him on court would be awesome.

What was it like training with Nadal?

It was seriously cool. I’ve practised with him three or four times now and been lucky enough to train with him on his days off when he’s preparing for a match, so we’ve hit for up to two hours. Just the ball he hits is not quite the same as any other player I’ve faced. His forehand is absolutely massive. Having all his coaches on the court and hearing him discuss his game is just awesome.

What stroke would you steal from another player if you could?

I’d take Nick Kyrgios’ serve. I think if I had Nick’s serve, tennis would be a lot easier for me. He’s got the best serve in the world. It’s accurate, it’s fast and the disguise is incredible. It’s come natural to him, which is even more amazing. I feel like Nick’s serve is something that anyone would want.

Describe your playing style in one sentence:

Aggressive baseliner looking to come forward.