Jonny O’Mara will wear his Arbroath strip at Wimbledon this week as he flies the flag for the Angus town at the home of tennis.
The former Arbroath Lawn Tennis Club member teams up with new doubles’ partner Hugo Nys as they face South American duo Gonzalo Escobar and Ariel Behar at Wimbledon on Wednesday.
O’Mara, 26, made it to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in 2020 and that remains a career highlight.
He reached the last eight of last week’s Eastbourne International and has set his sights on his best-ever performance at SW19.
Gayfield is never far from the thoughts of Wimbledon star Jonny O’Mara
And while a Wimbledon appearance is the highlight of the packed 11-month tennis calendar, football-daft O’Mara won’t leave home without his Red Lichties strip.
“No matter where I am in the world, I’ve always got an Arbroath top and a Scotland strip packed in my case,” O’Mara told Courier Sport.
“I’ll have them at Wimbledon. When I have my Arbroath top on I try my best to educate some of the foreign players about the town.
“It’s hard enough explaining where Scotland is, let alone Arbroath, but I try.
“I tell them Gayfield is an amazing ground and urge them to try an Arbroath Smokie.
“I live in Edinburgh but I’m proud of my Arbroath roots. It is still home.
“My parents live in Letham Grange, my mum works in the town and all my friends come from there.
“I’m a big Arbroath fan. I’m good friends with James Craigen and – through regularly beating him at golf – have one of his strips.
“When I was at the Australian Open, I got up at 6.30am to watch them play Dundee on BBC.
“I was stuck in my room in quarantine but it was great to feel like I was back home.
“You never forget where you come from and I spread the good word about Arbroath wherever I go.”
Golf, Wembley and Andy Murray
O’Mara, currently 75th in the doubles rankings, warmed up for his trip to Wimbledon with a visit to Wembley with former World No 1 Andy Murray for Scotland’s Euro 2020 draw with England.
Football is his number one passion away from tennis but he also excels at golf.
A one handicap golfer, O’Mara grew up on the edge of the 16th green at the now defunct Letham Grange golf course.
“Our house was so close to the course that I could chip onto the green from the back garden.”
Letham Grange was once dubbed the ‘Augusta of the North’ but it closed in 2019 after falling into a state of disrepair.
However, the childhood memories of overlooking the course live long in O’Mara’s memory.
“Our house was so close to the course that I could chip onto the green from the back garden,” said O’Mara.
“If any of the old greenkeepers are watching then it’s something I never ever did – honestly!
“By living so close to the course it really helped my game.
Really excited to announce that in between playing tennis and following Scotland at the Euros @Jonny_OMara will be joining us for a chat this week. It’s always good when we get to speak to a fellow smokie!!! #tennis #Wimbledon #lichtiesaway #chat #podcasts pic.twitter.com/G0auKxp80e
— Smokies & Wine (@smokiesandwine) June 21, 2021
“I was down there every day with my dad and brother and it’s so sad what has happened to it.
“The course is wrecked and there is no hope it will come back.
“I’ve played some really top courses in my time but Letham Grange is up there with the best.
“The only upside is that my parents can now go for a walk in nature with the dogs without worrying they’ll be hit by a golf ball!
— Jonny O'Mara (@Jonny_OMara) June 19, 2021
“I love playing golf but I also love football.
“It was an amazing experience to go to Wembley with Andy Murray, his coach’s brother and Liam Broady, the British No 5.
“We were split down the middle with Andy and I supporting Scotland and the other two England fans.
“It’s my Wembley debut and I loved being in a crowd again. Every time we got a throw-in or a corner I was going crazy.
“There will be fans at Wimbledon and I hope they can create a fantastic atmosphere.”
Jonny O’Mara’s new doubles partner
O’Mara recently left his long-term doubles partner Luke Bambridge to team up with French-Monegasque star Nys.
First successful round for @HugoNys and his partner on the double circuit in Paris (7/6 6/2) 👏
— Tecnifibre (@tecnifibre) June 3, 2021
Their unseeded duo’s relationship is still in its very early stages.
And O’Mara insists having shared interests off the court is crucial to success on it.
“Working with your doubles partner is a bit like being in a marriage,” said O’Mara.
“You have to make sure that you have similar interests and can enjoy a riveting conversation together.
“You are in each other’s pockets as much as Declan Rice was in Billy Gilmour’s pocket at Wembley. It’s important to get on.
“If one person calls it ‘soccer’ and the other calls it ‘football’ then it’s not going to work out.
“I got off to a good start with Hugo last week when we were at Eastbourne.
“We were due on court time booked for 7.30, with Scotland due to face Croatia half an hour later.
“Our game was rained off and I got a text from Hugo saying: ‘You’ll be able to watch Scotland.’
“That shows he gets me.
“We’ve got a real challenge ahead. Grass is my favourite surface and Wimbledon my favourite place but I’ve never succeeded there.
“I made it to the second week in Australia last year. I was playing the same day as Rafael Nadal was on Margaret Court Arena.
“Wimbledon is Wimbledon.
“I’ve been there as a wildcard three times and never got beyond the second round. I’ve always had a really tough draw.
“Maybe this year will be different and we will get through a few rounds.”