‘The Smashing Sikh’ – Rising tennis star, Sahej Singh Maker, seeks new partners

By Sahej Singh

I will WIN. Not immediately, but definitely. It is this attitude that motivates me to achieve my dream of playing in Wimbledon.

I began playing tennis at the age of four with my brother and father in the local park. I remember other people in the park gathering around the tennis courts and watching as I beat my family and celebrated wildly. One day, one of the spectators, an elderly gentleman called Len George who ran a tennis academy in a tennis club nearby, invited me to join.

From that point, I started playing tennis at least twice a week, not because I was forced to, but because I fell in love with the game. I woke up every morning and looked forward to playing tennis and used to sleep every night dreaming of winning Wimbledon. By the age of six, I was competing all over my home county, Middlesex, and winning lots of tournaments. One match I remember particularly fondly was when I was playing a boy twice my size in a final of an under 14’s tournament and beating him and I was only 10 years old at the time. Although I had a natural talent for the game, what set me apart from the other children was my competitive spirit and inner ‘Sikh warrior’  attitude.

By the age of 9, I realised that I wanted to play tennis for the rest of my life and I wanted to take my tennis career to the next level. My family and I searched for academies and schools that offered a strong tennis programme. Although I was awarded a high scholarship to attend a leading sports boarding school in England with excellent tennis coaches and facilities, I was unfortunately not able to accept the offer due to my family’s financial circumstances.

At the tender age of 11, I, therefore, made a life changing decision to leave school and attend a small full-time tennis academy, Tennis Avenue, who were willing to support me financially. This academy offered nothing fancy, with a few outdoor tennis courts on which we would train throughout the whole year regardless of if it was icy, raining or snowing. No frills!

I would travel two hours each way by train to get to the academy and back and even went on the weekends to coach the junior children for five hours to help pay for my tennis training. As well as playing tennis for four hours every day, I also studied for my GCSEs. I completed 9 GCSEs, and with Waheguru’s blessings, got an A* in Maths GCSE two years early. It was tough but I was determined to make all the necessary sacrifices to become a professional tennis player.

One of the highlights of my time at Tennis Avenue was when I travelled to La Baule in France to take part in the World Finals OUATT’s Kids Cup, representing Great Britain. OUATT is the largest international junior tennis competition in the world, with many countries participating, including Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Israel and Morocco. Despite an incredibly tough draw, I managed to reach the final where I played the No. 1 seed from Mexico. Unfortunately, I narrowly lost in the tie-break in the final set. Although I didn’t get the win, it was an incredible experience!

After spending four years at Tennis Avenue, I felt it was time to move on. I joined the Nottingham MyTennis program, a high performance and nationally recognised tennis academy. It was amazing – I got to work with the one of the best tennis coaches in the country, Mark Taylor, and the facilities were world-class. However, again due to my family’s financial circumstances, I had to leave the academy after only a year.

Tennis is, unfortunately, a very expensive sport in which you have to spend around £15k a year for coaching and around £10k to travel nationally and internationally to compete in tournaments. I’m at a point where I need to play over 100 matches next year to help me improve my game. Unfortunately, this comes at a great financial cost which my family just can’t quite afford.

My dream is to play in Wimbledon and to inspire young Sikh boys and girls to do the same. The principles set out by Guru Nanak are to meditate, work hard and share what you have with others. I aspire to do Simran every day to stay connected to Waheguru, work honestly and do Seva and share my passion for the game with others. I appreciate that money cannot buy everything in life and my dream is to be successful so that I can one day help others achieve their dreams.

I recognise that I am on a difficult path but I know that with the blessings and support of the Sadh Sangat, anything is possible. I know that with your prayers and support I will one day be able to achieve my dream. Success requires commitment and patience and with God’s blessings, I will get there.

If you would like to get in touch or support in any way, please contact me by email or phone.

E: sahejmaker@hotmail.com

M: 07536662889

Sikh Channel Interview: