A text message last Monday morning was how 24-year-old Josh Goodall discovered he would be playing for England at the first Commonwealth Games to feature tennis.
Having just returned from Thailand, and preparing to go to the USA for his next trip on the circuit, Goodall’s plans rapidly altered when he was drafted in to replace the injured Richard Bloomfield.
“When the team was originally announced they went with the world ranking positions, which I understood completely,” he said. “But I asked them if there would be any reserves if someone got injured. They said there probably wouldn’t be so I just accepted that I wouldn’t be playing.”
But everything changed when Bloomfield was ruled out of the Games after aggravating a back injury in France, as Goodall explained.
“I was in Bangkok playing challenges and I arrived back on Sunday night. Next morning I woke up to a text from the team leader Paul Hutchins asking if I wanted to come to Delhi.
“I was jet-lagged from Bangkok and was meant to be going to America on Thursday. Paul said there was no guarantee I could replace Richard, even if I accepted, because of accreditations – but I didn’t even have to think twice about it. Within three hours I knew I was going and flew out on Tuesday.”
With tennis making its first appearance at the Commonwealth Games, the Basingstoke-born right hander sees it as an opportunity to showcase the sport to a wider audience beyond the traditional Wimbledon fortnight.
“Having tennis at the Commonwealth Games should be good as people who don’t usually watch tennis who might see us. It will be interesting to see how much interest it generates back home.”
Despite the late call-up, the seventh seed, who currently sits 386th in the ATP rankings, is full of confidence ahead of the first round of the men’s singles, in which he will play Alberton Richelieu of St. Lucia.
“Realistically I think I can get a medal. My ranking dropped a bit through injury but I certainly think I can win a medal,” he said.
In the men’s doubles Goodall will join up with James Ward, a pairing that proved successful in India two years ago when they won a $50,000 Challenger tournament in Delhi.
If they can safely negotiate their first round tie against Kenyan opposition they will come up against the top seeded home favourites Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhuphati in the quarter finals. But the prospect of meeting the favourites does not worry Goodall.
“In doubles, anyone can beat anyone and we certainly believe we can do it. One step at a time though.”
First round ties involving English players
Men’s Singles Round One – begins Monday 4 October:
Alberton Richelieu (LCA) v Joshua Goodall (7) (ENG)
Michael Leong (SOL) v James Ward (4) (ENG)
Ross Hutchins (ENG) v Aqeel Khan (PAK)
Women’s Singles Round One – begins Monday 4 October:
Antonette Muttiah (SRI) v Anna Smith (7) (ENG)
Katie O’Brien (3) (ENG) Bye
Men’s Doubles Round One – begins Tuesday 5 October:
James Ward & Joshua Goodall (ENG) v Francis Mwangi & Dennis Okoth (KEN)
Harshana Godamanna & Rajeev Rajapakse (SRI) v Kenneth Skupski & Ross Hutchins (3) (ENG)
Women’s Doubles Round One – begins Tuesday 5 October:
Sarah Borwell & Anna Smith (2) (ENG) Bye