Shane Nicholls has made a big commitment to his tennis game with plans to travel to Europe in the fall to play professional tournaments.
“I’m hoping to go from October to the spring,” said Nicholls. “That’s what my goal would be.”
Greece, France and Italy are among the countries Nicholls plans to compete in.
“I’ll probably pick places where they have four or five (tournaments) in a row at the same site,” he said. “In Greece, there are five in a row at the exact same courts which is really nice so you can train on a daily basis with these players and get a wide variety of hitting partners. I think just being immersed in that high, competitive training we’ll increase my level of play.”
Nicholls, 23, recently graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in biology and biopsychology. He is aiming for a career in medicine but for now his focus is on his tennis.
In 2016, Nicholls picked up singles titles at four Tennis Manitoba tournaments: WLTC Open, Manitoba Clay Court Championships, Tech-Air Manitoba Open and the inaugural Tennis U Manitoba Finals. He was runner-up to Kevin Kylar at the Deer Lodge Classic.
Also in 2016, Nicholls played in his first-ever main draw at an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures tournament at the Canada F5 Futures in Saskatoon. The next week Nicholls played his first-ever ATP Challenger level match when he lost 6-4, 6-0 in qualifying at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger to France’s Sebastien Boltz, who at the time was ranked No. 464 in the world.
Nicholls, ranked No. 2 in Manitoba and No. 60 in Canada in men’s singles, plans to play ITF Futures pro tournaments this summer in Kelowna, Saskatoon, Calgary and Toronto. He hopes to receive a wildcard from Tennis Canada, as he did last year, to play in the qualifying rounds at the National Bank Challenger in July at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.
At age 11 Nicholls was introduced to the sport at a camp at Deer Lodge Tennis Club. That summer he practiced regularly with his dad on public asphalt courts in Westwood.
“He was definitely a good influence,” Nicholls said. “He made me just have fun at the sport. I think that’s such a huge thing to be able to have fun before starting to get your technique intact.”
After graduating from Westwood Collegiate, Nicholls played NCAA college tennis for the 2012-13 school year at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Fellow Winnipeggers Saul Shrom and Alex Lesiuk were also on the ThunderWolves team.
“What really improved (in Colorado) and took my game to the next level was increasing my fitness,” said Nicholls. “I also felt my mental game improved quite a bit. Obviously playing for a team instead of playing for yourself is a huge difference. It made me a little bit more mature on the court.”
Playing professionally is the next goal for Nicholls in the sport.
“It’s a dream I’ve always had since I picked up a racquet at the tennis camp (at DLTC),” he said. “I’ve committed to the training, I’ve hired a sports dietician, I’m working on a lot of sports psychology and I’m working a lot on my fitness.”
Lending a hand has been Lesiuk, head pro at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club and fitness trainer at Winnipeg Winter Club.
“Alex has set with me up with a fitness plan I’ve been working on,” said Nicholls. “It’s a 12-week program which combines a lot of on-court fitness with the gym fitness. Basically it’s six days a week.”
On top of his training, Nicholls works as an instructor at DLTC and WLTC. As he’s done in the past, he also plans on coaching tennis at Glendale Golf & Country Club this summer.
“The past three or four weeks, since I made this decision (to play pro tournaments in Europe), I’ve been on court four or five hours a day, coaching usually two to three hours, in the gym one or two hours a day, and then hopefully a bit of sports psychology at night,” Nicholls said.
Nicholls has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money to compete professionally in Europe in the fall:
He also plans to have a fundraising event hosted by friends and family at the end of the summer.
Visit his website: https://shanenichollstennis.weebly.com/