I did not exactly choose wheelchair tennis, I sort of fell in to it.
I started playing wheelchair tennis around 7 years ago. I was a ball crew member at the British Open Championship in Nottingham. I was spotted by the England engagement officer and attended a come and try it session which I absolutely loved. That’s how my tennis journey started which changed my life forever.
A few weeks later I started training at Loughborough University with Martyn Whait and Dawn Upton. Since then I have won over 50 National and International titles and I have represented Great Britain at numerous World Team Cup events for both junior and womens. This is balanced along side studying full time for my degree as a Sport and Exercise Therapist and coaching wheelchair tennis at Loughborough University.
This was the start of my wheelchair tennis journey and changed my life forever.
A typical day for me is a day of uni and training, I get up around 6am and start fuelling for the day, with a good healthy breakfast. I travel into university at 8am and head to my lectures, which varies with times daily. I train on court with my coaches for around 4 hours a day and do a gym session for an hour. A couple of days a week I stay after all this and help coach wheelchair tennis to university students. I head home around 8.30pm for food and then I have to complete my assignments or reading ahead of doing it all the next day.
If I am away at tournament I may play matches of upto 5-7 hours a day, then I return to my room and catch up on the lectures that I have missed that day. Its full on, but I love it. Although I do enjoy my weekend lie ins when I am home and just relaxing with family.
It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from not only me, but from my family who support me through the good and bad times. My family are so understanding when I have to miss birthdays, anniversary celebrations,where I facetime them to be a part of their day. The sacrifices my parents and sister have made to ensure I am where I need to be no matter where in the world it is. My amazing coaches are constantly by my side with support and advise; helping me to improve as a player, and to continue my learning.
I have faced many challenges along the way over the last 7 years. I think the biggest was when I had surgery a few years a go, when I suffered complications and I was on complete bed rest for 5 weeks. It was the most difficult time laying flat when I am such an active person.
I had to have intensive physio which took so much determination, it took me nearly a year to get my strength and fitness back fully. Both myself and my coaches did think it could have been career ending at one stage. But I love a challenge and this was definitley the biggest I have challenged.
One of the constant challenges I face is funding. In order to go up the rankings to ensure qualification for the grand slams and the Paralympics I need to increase my tournament schedule and this is extremely expensive.
I have some amazing financial supporters, but unfortunately due to covid and now the cost of living crisis I have lost funding.
I have been a This Girl Can Ambassador for 8 years, encouraging and empowering girls and females in to sport and exercise. I am extremely passionate about this and also about inclusion, as I feel no matter ability, sport should be available to all.
My family are so incredibly supportive, and no matter the barriers my parents have taught me to never give up, to keep striving and to keep pushing those barriers.
I hope that being a visable female with a disability helps to encourage other females and disabled people to live life to the full. To never let their gender be a barrier to achieve anything they want to do. If other girls and women can see I am able to push those limits and make a pathway through, then so can they.
My biggest achievement in life is being selected to represent Great Britain at the World Team Cup, becoming the LTA 314th Colour holder. To make my senior singles winning debut at 18 years old was an just amazing feeling.
In the same year I finished World Number 2 in the junior girls ranking. When life is tough and you may think that all is lost or impossible, never ever give up. There is always a way to achieve. It may not be easy, and might take you longer, but that does not matter. As it is not how you get there, it’s reaching your goals and achieving that matters.
My three tips I would give to young females starting their careers would be:
Have the right people around you who will support you no matter what.
Never let anyone tell you, you can not achieve, as you can!
Females are strong, brave, give life, and are extremely determined. No barriers and prejudices should stop you achieving your dreams.
Just never stop being you, always push boundaries, challenge yourself and always try your best, because your best is good enough.