TENNIS: Harriet comes of age on court
2:30pm Friday 31st January 2014 in By Dan Barnes
TEENAGE tennis starlet Harriet Eyles says that she isn’t fazed by the prospect of facing down girls up to seven years her senior when she represents Wiltshire at U18 level next month.
The 11-year-old, who lives in Ramsbury, has earned a spot in the county squad for the Aegon 18 and under County Cup in Redbridge, London, on February 28-March 2.
Wiltshire will be taking on Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Suffolk at the Redbridge Leisure Centre and Eyles, who has already earned county call-ups at U12 and U14 level in the last year, is taking the step up in her stride.
“I’m really looking forward to it and I’m not too nervous about it,” said the youngster, who plays for Ramsbury Tennis club and also trains at the Wiltshire Tennis Academy in Swindon.
“I’ve played with a lot of U16 girls in the past, so I’m used to playing against bigger girls with big hits.
“My (Ramsbury) coaches Catherine and Lewis Fletcher, who play for the Great Britain Deaflympic team, are also going to be going with the squad, which will be really nice.”
Eyles, who is a pupil at Pinewood School in Bourton, near Shrivenham, is currently ranked 18th in the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) U12 rankings.
Her upcoming year has been given a boost by the news that the youngster has made it on to the AEGON FutureStars programme for the first time.
The youngster’s national ranking, coupled with her performance at last year’s national Talent ID day at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton means that she will receive funding and coaching from the sport’s national body.
Eyles says that recognition from the LTA is a major lift to her confidence.
She said: “Only ten people from my age group got funding and we all get patches to put on our hoodies and bags.
“I’m really happy because it’s a big step forward for me – it’s nice to get some recognition as well.”
Mum Ros added: “The nicest thing for Harriet is that it puts her on the national radar a bit. It’s complicated how they work it all out but she’s got herself there.”
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport