Brisbane, Australia, 19 April 2024 | Leigh Rogers

A patient approach is certainly paying off for Adam Walton.

The 25-year-old from Brisbane enjoyed a successful US college career before turning professional in 2022.

He is now soaring up the ATP Tour rankings, achieving career-highs of world No.129 in singles and world No.134 in doubles this year.

> READ: Adam Walton – A rising star of Australian tennis

In our Train with the Pros series, Walton reflects on his most memorable practice sessions and offers valuable advice.

You spent four years playing US college tennis at the University of Tennessee, why did you choose this path?

It was definitely the right decision for me. I wasn’t ready to play pro tennis at 17 when I graduated from high school. Ultimately I went to college and I wasn’t even sure then if I’d play pro tennis after college. I wasn’t sure until my last year in college, when I had my best results and finished the collegiate system ranked No.2 behind Ben Shelton. My coach there said I should at least give it a crack, and I had some pretty decent success straight off the bat, so that kind of helped me to commit to playing pro.

Do you have a favourite time of the day to practice?

Definitely in the morning, I’d say 9am is good. I just feel if it gets too late in the day, I get a little sluggish. I’ve always been a morning person. When I played college tennis, we were up early in the mornings either lifting weights or at school.

What is the favourite part of your game to work on?

My serve. I like continuously working on my serve, it can always get better. I think it’s the main shot in the men’s game, so the more you can practice it, the better you’ll be.

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

My least favourite would probably be my volleys. I think they are pretty important to finish off rallies, so as much as I probably don’t spend enough time on it, I do look forward to working on them as it’s an area I do feel my game can grow.

How do you like to structure your practice sessions? Do you prefer to work on your strengths or your weaknesses?

It’s a bit of everything to be honest, even the physicality and mental sides come into practice. This preseason was pretty physical, as well as being very specific in some sessions where I was working on particular shots or skills of the game.

Do you prefer repetition or competition on the practice court?

I love to compete. We competed a lot in college, and I do like to play points in practice. I think you can always practice specifics, but at the end of the day, when you go out to play a match you are playing points. So I think it’s really good to play points in practice as well.

Can you recall the first time you had an opportunity to practice with a professional player?

That’s a good question. Growing up and watching the Brisbane International, I didn’t really do much hitting there. But when I went to college, we had an ATP Challenger there. I remember I was able to hit with a couple of seeded players. I hit with Reilly Opelka in my freshman year when I was 18, so that was pretty cool.

What was it like facing Opelka’s serve?

I didn’t really face it, I just watched it go by me. But it was a good experience.

Are there any practice sessions that stand out as being particularly memorable?

In college we’d have team practices, where we would have all 10 guys on the team practising at once. The energy was really loud, which is how the college nature is, and they were always pretty fun sessions.

Have you had the opportunity to hit with any of the top-ranked players on tour?

Not really to be honest. I just sort of keep in my own little bubble. I do a lot with my coach or with guys that I know because then I feel we can both do things that perhaps we are trying to work on. Sometimes hitting with one of the top guys you might have to do something that perhaps you didn’t want to work on.

If you could train alongside any player on tour, who would it be?

I’d love to hit with Novak Djokovic. I just think he’s the best in the men’s game and it would be nice to say you’ve hit with the best.

If you could hit with any player in tennis history, who would it be?

I’d still say Djokovic. I think that purely on stats, he’s been the best male player to ever play the game.

What advice would you share with an aspiring player to get the most out of a practice session?

Just enjoy it, which I know it can be a hard thing to do when you’re young. You’ve got to go into practice and matches with an open view on it and just really trust the work and the process. You’ll develop physically as you get older, so it’s important for little kids to just enjoy it.

If you had five minutes remaining in a practice session and could do anything you wish, what would you choose?

I’d probably just hit a few more serves. That’s a big goal of mine right now, to improve my serve.

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

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