Melbourne, Australia, 5 April 2024 | Jackson Mansell

Andrew Harris has achieved some major career milestones in the past year.

The 30-year-old made his top-100 doubles debut, advanced to his first ATP doubles final and progressed to a Grand Slam semifinal (in mixed doubles at Australian Open 2024 alongside fellow Melburnian Jaimee Fourlis).

Persistence has proven a defining quality of the former top-10 junior, who won two Grand Slam boys’ doubles title with Nick Kyrgios in 2012.

He achieved a career-high singles ranking of world No.159 in 2019, before injury forced him to focus primarily on doubles from mid-2022.

Harris, whose mother Anne Minter was a former top 30-ranked professional player, reflects on his most memorable practice sessions and offers valuable advice in our Train with the Pros series.

Do you have a favourite time of day to practice?

Mid morning. Not too early but not too late. I do long, physical warm-ups because my body is not great, so I always have to do at least an hour before in the gym. So if you hit at 10am, you’ve got to be there at 8.30am or 9am, which is a bit early. I think 11am or 12pm to hit is the perfect time for me.

How many hours, on average, do you spend on the practice court?

I usually do about two hours a day, Monday through to Saturday, and then Sunday, I’ll have as a rest day.

Do you have a favourite part of your game to work on?

I think my best shot is probably my backhand, I’ve always hit it pretty well. You still sort of practice everything. I used to play singles, and then my body wasn’t good, so I can only play doubles now. That’s a very different experience, so your practices are a lot different, a lot more repetitive. But you still try and keep it fun, and practice a bit of everything.

Do you have a least favourite part of your game to work on?

I actually don’t enjoy practising my serve. It’s kind of weird, because it’s such an important part of your game, especially in doubles. But I just don’t ever really love going out with a bucket of balls and just serving. When you’re hitting groundstrokes and you’re playing points, your energy is high, but then it’s sort of like a real lull when you go into serving practice.

Can you remember the first professional player you had an opportunity to hit with?

I remember hitting with Lleyton Hewitt when I was probably 15 or 16. I did some practices with him which was a great experience. I think he was coming back from injury and getting ready to play Roland Garros. A week or two after, we practised every day for about a week. I really remember his intensity and his work ethic. It was really fun. Rochey (Tony Roche) came down to some of the sessions too and I remember you don’t get a drinks break for a long time. We finished a couple of games and I was walking to the changeover and Rochey was like ‘what are you doing? We go again’.

Can you recall any training sessions you were particularly nervous for?

I warmed up Novak Djokovic when I was pretty young. I was a bit tight, because I didn’t want to miss any balls. I also had a two-hour practice session with Rafa (Nadal) a few years ago at the Australian Open before I played main-draw singles. I was a bit nervous before that, because we were playing sets. It’s one thing warming a guy up, but nothing compared to playing legit sets for two hours.

Do you have favourite players to practice with on tour?

There’s a bunch of Aussies who I travel with, like Alex Bolt, Luke Saville and those sorts of guys, that I see a lot. Anytime I get on court with mates of mine, I always find I have a bit more fun.

Which player on tour would you most like the opportunity to hit with?

Probably Carlos Alcaraz. I love the way he plays his forehand and I really enjoy watching him play.

Is there any player from tennis history that you would like to practice with?

I never got to hit with or warm-up Roger Federer. That would have been cool. I’ve got a one-hand backhand as well, so to hit with him it would have been fun. It would have been nice to be down the other end and see what it’s like, because when I hit with Novak Djokovic I was just so impressed to see how clean and how deep he hit the ball. Sometimes you just don’t realise it when you’re watching on TV, until you’re actually hitting against it.

Finally, if you had five minutes left in a training session and could do anything you want, what would it be?

Two-up, two-back in doubles I always find a bit of fun. It’s a game we play called ‘Ammunition’. It’s good energy and a bit of banter. It’s quite fun.

What advice would you give to an aspiring player to try and get the most out of a training session?

It’s easy to get caught up in thinking you can waste a training session, but it all adds up. I think when you put together a string of really good, consistent performances in practice each time you go out on court, you gradually improve and then you will get the results on the match court. It might not come initially, but it will once you bank more good sessions, you’ll get the results eventually.

> READ MORE: From our “Train with the pros” series

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