Norfolk number one Richard Bloomfield faces uncertain future despite latest victory

Norfolk tennis players taking part in the Aegon British Tour tournament at Easton College. Richard Bloomfield. Picture: Denise Bradley Norfolk tennis players taking part in the Aegon British Tour tournament at Easton College. Richard Bloomfield. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
6:30 AM

British Tour success in his own backyard was enjoyable for Norfolk number one Richard Bloomfield – but now the 30-year-old finds himself in a state of tennis limbo.

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Richard Bloomfield in action during the first round of The All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon in 2006. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA.Richard Bloomfield in action during the first round of The All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon in 2006. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA.

The 30-year-old is the county’s only professional player but he has taken a step away from the professional circuit in recent weeks to reassess his future in the game.

Bloomfield won an Aegon British Tour event at Easton College Tennis Centre last week – beating Alexis Canter of Oxfordshire 6-3 6-1 in the final – and that home success keeps alive his slim hopes of a Wimbledon wildcard.

But the former world number 176, originally from Alpington, near Poringland, is assessing other options open to him in the game.

“I don’t want to say I’ve retired from pro tennis but I’ve not been playing the last couple of weeks, so it’s a bit of a strange decision for me,” Bloomfield revealed.

Richard Bloomfield in action against Feliciano Lopez from Spain at The Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon in 2004. Photo: Rebecca Naden/PARichard Bloomfield in action against Feliciano Lopez from Spain at The Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon in 2004. Photo: Rebecca Naden/PA

“I’ve had a lot of injuries the last few years and my ranking has dropped a lot. I’ve been playing a lot of qualifiers and lower ranking tournaments and it’s not financially viable to continue.

“The one at Easton is part of the British Tour and there are 40 of those in a year so I can make some half decent money in them and look to go into coaching.”

Having already played Wimbledon four times, reaching the second round of the men’s singles in 2006, Bloomfield is still targeting another appearance at SW19 in June.

By winning at Easton he has accumulated maximum points and at the end of May, the leading player on the British Tour, will earn a wildcard into a Great Britain Wimbledon play-off.

The 32 highest ranked British players will then compete for a number of Wimbledon wildcards.

Last year Bloomfield reached the British Tour Masters Final, having won three Tour events, but is still not sure what his future as a player will hold.

“I think it is more that I don’t think it is sensible to carry on,” he continued. “There are a lot of petitions around at the lower end of the game about prize money being so low, but that’s not changed for 20 or 30 years really.

“A lot of players can’t afford to continue playing at lower levels and to go through qualifiers without even having a world ranking point or prize money. So that’s partially one of the reasons and the British Tour events are over two or three days and you can earn some prize money.

“So I don’t know what the answer is to help keep youngsters in the game longer. I’m older so I can make the decision, it’s easier for me than an up and coming player.

“I’ve had back injuries for the last four or five years, and have maintained that, but you have to find the time to maintain that and it is difficult to find time to practice on top of that.”

From the 2001 British Junior Tennis Championships, to the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in the US and the third round of the men’s doubles at Wimbledon in 2007 – Bloomfield has enjoyed plenty of adventures in tennis.

He is not ready to write the final page of his story just yet though, adding: “I would never say never, I still think there is something left in me, but finances and injuries have made me make the decision.”

Do you think more can be done to keep tennis players in the game? Leave a comment below, email norfolksport@archant.co.uk or write to Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE

Follow David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer

Related links

Photo gallery: Norfolk tennis aces ease into quarter-finals of Aegon British Tour event at Easton College Tennis Centre

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