In addition to her academic studies, Katie is a hard-working young sportswoman. Here she gives an insight into the life of an aspiring professional tennis player.
“I have been playing tennis since the age of five, when I won the 10-and-under county championships and I have found it to be enjoyable and challenging and loved competing. At the age of seven, I represented Great Britain for the first time in a 10U event in France. Since then I have played more and more and had the opportunity to travel all around the world, meeting lots of new people, experiencing different places and gaining insights into their cultures. Pursuing this career path means a significant amount of travel and, while many would like the idea of travelling extensively, the reality of this life is a lot of time spent at airport terminals and managing time-zone changes. But it’s worth it!
I will play approximately 25-30 tournaments in a year and, so far, I have played at events in Japan, Tunisia, Spain, France, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Prague, Budapest, and Miami. My current world Junior ITF (International Tennis Federation) ranking is 27. To take home the trophy, you need to win five straight matches against very good players. If you manage to win a tournament, there will be somewhere else to play the following Monday, so you have to be able to prepare yourself for a quick turn-around and to start again. Training never stops and there’s always something to work on. Luckily, we have a great role model to follow in the person of Andy Murray, whose hard work has finally paid off in his becoming Wimbledon Champion.
This year I have been lucky enough to play at two Grand Slams: Roland Garros and Wimbledon. These were definitely the most prestigious events I have played so far. It has given me an incredible boost in my passion and ambitions for making this my career. Playing in a Grand Slam is amazing: the atmosphere is electric all around the venues and I can’t even describe the adrenaline rush that it provides. So playing in these events in turn makes you want to train and work harder. I am working a lot on physical fitness, and try to make improvements to my technique and game style all the time. Grand Slams bring with them, not only large crowds and the interest of rubbing shoulders with all the stars of the game but other challenges, too: cameras, the media, agents, potential sponsors, talent scouts and looking after fans. At Roland Garros, immediately after having played my first match I was rushed over to Sky Sports for an interview.
The days at tournaments can be very long, with early practice hits, performing-injury prevention exercises, seeing physiotherapists to iron out the odd tweak or two, drinking recovery shakes and energy drinks and timing the all-important meals around match times. Some matches can be very late, and may have to be finished under floodlights if you’re scheduled to go on last.
At present I am preparing for the next Grand Slam in New York: the U.S Open. I am extremely excited, as it will be my first time at Flushing Meadows. However, it is not my first time playing in the US: last year I played in the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy, at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, which is a really important event where the best 18U girls from GB play against the USA. Writing about this now brings back happy memories, as for the first time in 14 years the British team returned home with the trophy and I had the honour of winning the vital match giving us victory.
Tennis can be a challenging lifestyle, but the rewards for success are very high. Playing each year in front of British supporters in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York would definitely be worth working hard to achieve. For now I am going to make the most of every opportunity that I have and enjoy the journey.”