JONNY O’MARA’S Christmas dinner will be served at 35,000 feet this year. The Arbroath doubles specialist is cramming a lot into the final fortnight of the year starting with this week’s Battle of the Brits event in Aberdeen.

After that there is one day off to catch up with family and friends before a Christmas Eve flight to Australia that will see him celebrate the big day somewhere in the air. It is a bit different to most people’s festive plans but the 27-year-old is happy to make that sacrifice for tennis.

“I think we don’t arrive until Boxing Day so I’ll be on a plane somewhere on Christmas Day,” he says. “We normally head to Australia around this time of year so it’s something we’re used to. I’ll just have my main Christmas celebrations on the 23rd before I head so there are no dramas there.”

Before then, however, is the small matter of the Battle of the Brits where the Arbroath man will team up with the Murray brothers and Aidan McHugh for the Scotland v England contest. Last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid making the sense of anticipation around this one even greater. Given the players on both teams know each other inside out from all the time they have spent together within the British set-up there ought to be a sense of fun about proceedings, especially at this time of year.

O’Mara, set to play doubles with Jamie Murray, is eagerly looking forward to it but reckoned it will still be as competitive as any tour event.

“It’s going to be pretty cool to represent Scotland in Scotland alongside the Murray brothers,” he says. “There’s obviously no ranking points or prize money but there’s a lot of competitive people in both teams. We’re all in group chats and it’s not all that encouraging at the moment! It’s all good fun but we all want to be doing better than each other.

“A lot of the great results many of the British players have had in the last few years is probably down to the atmosphere that’s been created and the camaraderie among the group. But there’s no way Andy wants to step on court in Scotland and lose! So it’s going to be exciting.

“Jamie and I have got a tough tie against Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski who are both top three in the world so we’re the underdogs. But Jamie doesn’t lose many games in Scotland and my record is actually pretty good against that pair.

“I’m sure the atmosphere is going to be great. Any time Andy plays in Scotland it’s absolute madness and I’m looking forward to being a part of it and singing the Scottish national anthem for once. The last time I played in Scotland was for a Challenger event and we were played on to the court by bagpipers. So this is going to be that experience but on steroids!”

From there it is a quick breather before boarding that long flight to Australia. And for good reason, too. O’Mara has been selected for the inaugural United Cup, a mixed team event, taking place in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. The GB team will be captained by Tim Henman and features Cam Norrie, Dan Evans and Harriet Dart and O’Mara hopes it will provide the perfect springboard heading into the Australian Open.

“It’s a new event so to be part of the team is something I can’t wait for,” he adds. “We’re playing Australia in Sydney who’ll have Nick Kyrgios and then Spain who’ve got Rafael Nadal so that’s going to be a fun event.”

This has been a mixed year for O’Mara. His highlights came at Wimbledon where he and partner Alicia Barnett reached the mixed doubles quarter-finals by beating Jamie Murray and Venus Williams, while he and Ken Skupski reached the third round of the men’s doubles.

The decision, though, not to award ranking points at this year’s tournament denied O’Mara the chance to capitalise on that success by appearing at more events in the autumn.

“It’s been a strange year,” he admits. “My ranking slipped a bit but my results have been pretty good. I had a great run at the French Open and a good Wimbledon but couldn’t take any ranking points from that. So that affected what events I could play after that.

“But the one thing I ever wanted from my career was to enjoy a really good run at Wimbledon so to do well in both events this year was special. Those are memories I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get.”

This has been a big month for O’Mara off the court too, with the University of Stirling alumnus proposing to girlfriend Lauren in the hills of Glencoe.

“I’d never been there before but it was the perfect location,” he says. “And a bit of a relief to be honest to finally get it done!”