Sophie Smith has improved her tennis skills through the Community Trust’s Premier League 4 Sport programme.
- Sophie first held a racket nine months ago during P.E. lessons with Community Trust coaches.
- She represented Wigan Athletic in a national tennis competition in Roehampton this week.
- Premier League 4 Sport aims to inspire young people to take part in different sports.
A sports enthusiast, 14-year-old Sophie has already established a fondness for netball, badminton and rounders, but it was during P.E. lessons with Wigan Athletic that she first held a racket.
Since joining the programme nine months ago, Sophie has improved her tennis skills considerably and has developed a real enthusiasm for the game.
"I thought I’d give it a go one day after school," says Sophie. "I used to think it would be fun and I could learn different skills and play games - things we don't do in lessons.
"At the start we went through the basics, getting used to the rules, but as we've kept progressing every week we've been playing matches, starting off with singles, then doubles.
"I wasn't very good at all when I first started out but now I feel I've progressed and done so much better. It's amazing how much I've improved, just coming to the sessions and learning new skills.”
Sophie, along with three other pupils from Fred Longworth High School, represented Wigan Athletic earlier this week in the national Premier League Tennis tournament at the national tennis centre in Roehampton, before being given a once in a lifetime experience as they watched the women’s semi-final matches on centre court at Wimbledon.
"I was really excited and I couldn’t wait. It was quite a shock when I was chosen for the team because I've never played any sport at all so far away from where I live.
"It was exciting to play against other people from around the country because I was able to play other people and see what their abilities were like.
“The national tennis centre was such a cool place. I’d heard a lot about it because it’s always mentioned on TV, so to actually have the opportunity to play there was brilliant.
“We then had an incredible experience when we watched the women’s semi-finals on centre court at Wimbledon, which is something very few people get the opportunity to do so we were really, really lucky.”
The Community Trust’s Premier League 4 Sport programme is part of the Premier League tennis initiative, which uses the appeal of professional clubs to inspire young people to get involved in different sports.
"When I was in Year 7 and 8, I wasn't a massive fan of tennis - when we did it in lessons I thought, 'do I really like this?', but now I've done it, I really like it.
"Having a football club running the programme is quite cool. It's better to learn from someone who trains people more in football and tennis, rather than having teachers teaching us. It feels like I'm learning tennis properly.
"My sister and I started first and I recommended this to two of my friends as well, and now they come and have a lot of fun too. I'd definitely recommend it to other people."
For more information about Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Premier League 4 Sport programme, please contact Premier League 4 Sport co-ordinator Fergus Heyes on 01942 318090 or email email@example.com