Black History Month 2020: LTA (Lawn Tennis Association)
Big up to Arum Akom. Coaching a top 10 player is his lifelong dream. For the moment, he’s happy building his coaching career at a high-performance level.
Arum is a black man and also, a tennis coach. He wants more black people involved in the game and is on a mission to change perceptions.
Thanks to the LTA and Arum for giving me the opportunity to share his tennis journey for Black History Month.
Black History Month 2020: LTA (Lawn Tennis Association)
Earlier this year, I interviewed British Tennis player Danielle Daley during lockdown – scroll down for her interview. Hearing Danielle talk about her family support especially recovering from injury piqued my interest. My interest reached a maximum level when I learned her beloved grandparents immigrated from Montserrat as part of the Windrush generation.
Thanks to LTA, I presented and produced this little ditty for Black History Month. I wanted to learn about Danielle’s grandparents migration, where their love of tennis comes from and seeing black people play the game over the years.
Thanks to the LTA, Danielle, grandparents Cyrille & Mary plus, Mum Chrissy for this wonderful snapshot into tennis and family life for Black History Month.
Getting to Know: Amelie Brooks, junior Tennis player
What a delight speaking to Amelie. Her social media posts delve into the dedication and work it takes as a tennis player. Representing her county is one thing ticked off her list. Playing at the world’s greatest grand slam Wimbledon is on the list too.
Amelie and I chatted about several things. She has an exciting future, that is for sure. She tells me who encouraged her to pick up a racquet aged four, how she is working on developing her powerful forehand and why she loves screenwriting as a hobby (which I found fascinating!)
Getting to Know: Danielle Daley, British Tennis player
Tennis means the absolute world to Danielle Daley. I asked Danielle who would she be if tennis was not in her life. Her answer? Danielle spoke honestly: ‘…I’ve always wanted to be a tennis player, nothing else…’. And, her family love tennis especially mum and the grandparents!
Danielle shares how her grandparents from the Windrush generation became involved in tennis, her experiences at The Progress Women’s Championships, and why she describes herself as an extrovert.
Getting to Know: Evan Hoyt, British Tennis player
Mexican born, Welsh raised Evan Hoyt describes himself on his Instagram as; ‘I play tennis, drink coffee & mess around with a camera’.
Making his senior debut at Wimbledon in 2019 created so many good memories for him but, Evan puts his happiness above everything else.
Evan tells me about the moment walking onto the court as a Wimbledon Mixed Doubles quarter-finalist, where his love for videography comes from and why he stopped watching Prison Break boxsets.
Getting to Know: Ros Satar, Tennis journalist & Britwatch Sports co-founder
Described as an ‘unashamed gadget girl’, Ros studied her NCTJ Diploma part-time in the evenings while working full-time. Now, a qualified journalist, Ros runs Britwatch Sports providing journalism students and newly qualified journalists with a platform to showcase their writing.
Ros and I are tennis journo buddies. So keen getting her thoughts on the inaugural Schroeders Battle of the Brits, if the US Open should go ahead in the autumn and which future British tennis talent I keep an eye on.
Getting to Know: Eden Silva, British Tennis player
Eden Silva is a Singles and Doubles player taking part in newly created Progress Tour Women’s Championships in London this month. She’s definitely ready to get back out on the court!
Eden describes herself as ‘fierce’, on and off the court. She also believes life tribulations only make a person stronger and she speaks from experience. After recovering from a serious knee injury in 2015, Eden opens up about keeping a positive mindset, loving family time during the lockdown and exploring her pathway in fashion outside tennis.
- Current ranking WTA 486 (singles) / WTA 186 (doubles)
- Career-high singles ranking 424 (2019)
- Reached Wimbledon mixed doubles quarter-finals w/ Evan Hoyt in 2019
Getting to Know: Josh Wilson, British Tennis coach
To keep him busy during the lockdown, Josh created YouTube channel ‘Josh Teaches Tennis’ offering hints and tricks from a coaching perspective.
Professional tennis starts to make a slow return. So, I wanted Josh’s thoughts on the Schroders Battle of the Brits at the National Tennis Centre. This exhibition tournament features the top British males in the singles and the doubles.
Also, he tells me about the magical time teaching tennis in New Zealand, how the future is bright in men’s tennis (a lot of love for Nick Kyrgios) and working alongside Mark Petchey.
Getting to Know: Samuel Rayner, British Tennis junior player
Sam Rayner has a plan. He wants to win his first ITF title and knows this takes sacrifice. But, he is prepared for this.
He tells me about coping with lockdown, developing his tennis game style while still growing (he stands at 6′ 5) and thoughts on the news PS 5 design.
Getting to Know: Olivia French, British Tennis player
Olivia French trains and studies at Durham University. She’s reading Mathematics and as you’ll hear, it’s my least favourite subject – ever. Olivia loves it. Like really loves it! Like most tennis players, she’s using creative training methods staying home while taking online tutor lessons.
Olivia tells me why she changed from playing football to tennis aged seven, using stats to improve her game and getting involved in Park Run.
Reporting for 3SportGH (Africa) on the US Open 2020
Getting to Know: Emily Appleton, British Tennis player
Emily Appleton loves playing in front of big crowds and is hungry for the big stage. Moving from juniors to seniors is no mean feat, yet she’s managed it seamlessly.
From her sunny and beautiful back garden, Emily tells me why she chose a Sky Sports scholarship, what she needs to do rising up the tennis ranks and the challenge using paleo ingredients for baking.
- Current WTA ranking 675 (March 2020)
- Career-high singles ranking 501 (2018)
- Two ITF titles
Getting to Know: Ryan Peniston, British Tennis player
Ryan Peniston. British Born (Essex massif!) with Malaysian heritage. Our 20-minute conversation flew by and I barely scratched the surface hearing about Ryan’s journey so far. He’s a cancer survivor, moved to France aged 13 before heading to Memphis, USA and strong dreams breaking the Top 100.
He breaks down the ‘left-hand’ player myth (plays left hand, two-handed backhand), working with Coach Dad and keeping himself occupied while tennis is suspended.
- Current ranking 394 (March 2020)
- Career high ranking 359 (November 2019)
- Two ITF titles on hard courts
Getting to Know: Fran Jones, British Tennis player
Fran Jones is no ordinary tennis player. Born with a rare genetic disorder ectrodactyly-ectodermal dysplasia (EED), Fran learned to adapt her game style to play tennis. But, the word ‘impossible’ is not part of her vocabulary. Not only is Fran managing her syndrome, but she also moved to Spain as a young girl to live and train to be the best.
She tells me why Spain won out against the US for training abroad, seeing different Grand Slam winners on the WTA tour (Serena Williams gets a shout out) and how would her friends describe her?
- Current WTA ranking 322 (March 2020)
- Career-high ranking 297 (June 2019)
- Selected for Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) Association Pro Scholarship Programme – funding for British players whose governing body believe will crack the top 100.
Getting to Know: Millie Rajecki, British Tennis player
Millie Rajecki is heading to NC State University, North Carolina USA later this year for training and study – subject to coronavirus travel restrictions, of course.
She tells me how she’s keeping fit during the lockdown, why the court is the only place she can express herself and the deep love for Marks & Spencer (M&S) Percy Pigs!
Getting to Know: Tara Moore, British Tennis player
Who is Tara Moore? Loves tennis, loves being a dog mum and passionate for lower-ranked players to have a voice in the game. We chatted around half-an-hour talking the industry (so much to unpick!), life under lockdown in Michigan USA and her desire for better distribution of Grand Slam prize money.
- Career high ranking 145 (May 2017)
- Running for ITF Player Council
Getting to Know: Holly Hutchinson, British Tennis player
Holly lives and trains at Old Dominion University, ODU in Virginia USA. Following a whirlwind few months, hear how she’s coped with the massive changes in her life, what’s her motivation to become a professional tennis player and what’s the one thing she’s working on right now.
- Beat a top 10 (#2 Cameron Morra) ranked player in the US university system
Getting to Know: Vic Allen, British Tennis player
Back in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, Vic studies and trains under the US collegiate system in sunny Florida. Hear why she moved Stateside, running up Derbyshire hills as part of her training programme and accidentally hitting tennis balls into her neighbour’s back garden.
- Trains and studies Sports Management at Florida State University, US
- Reached last 16 of the Australian Open Junior Tennis in 2019
Getting to Know: Jodie Burrage, British Tennis player
Hear my insightful conversation with Jodie on keeping fit during social isolation, her disappointment missing two grass court seasons and perfecting her golf swing in her back garden.
- Burrage has won three ITF titles
- Career high ranking 233 (June 2019)
- Current ranking 289 (as of 16 March 2020)
Getting to Know: Katy Dunne, British Tennis player
Hear my insightful conversation with Katy on the impact of coronavirus on tennis, Wimbledon being pushed to 2021 and how she is keeping using tyres to keep fit.
- Dunne has won six singles and eight doubles titles on the ITF Women’s Circuit
- Career-high ranking 212 (May 2018) / current ranking 325 (as of 16 March 2020)
- Made her WTA Tour main-draw debut at the 2014 Aegon Classic (Birmingham, UK)