You first got selected for GB at the age of 11. How did you handle the pressure at such a young age? Did you embrace it? Or did nerves often get the better of you?
I never particularly felt pressure at the age of 11 just because I was new to the game and I just loved playing so much. I understood that there was pressure on me, but I never put pressure on myself. The only thing I really pressurised myself to do was to make sure I worked the hardest I possibly could for every second I was on court. My coach used to say hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard so I carried that through.
Throughout your junior career you ranked in the top 5 within the country. Do you find it hard balancing your academics, with playing at such a high level? Do you have any regrets, or anything you would change now?
Honestly, I didn’t find it hard to balance my academics because tennis made me be efficient with my schoolwork. For example, because I knew I only had 2 hours to do schoolwork I would just work as efficiently as possible in those 2 hours. I also really wanted to do well in exams, so I’d say I tried pretty hard. In terms of regrets, I wish I had believed in myself more. A lot of people around me believed in me but I didn’t believe in myself enough.
You lost in the final of the British National Championship three years in a row. Did this knock your confidence? How did you come back from this?
I wouldn’t say losing in the final nocked my confidence because in a weird way I predicted that it was going to happen. I think that links to lack of belief because I knew I was good enough to make it to the final, but I didn’t think I was good enough to win the whole tournament. So, my confidence was at a place of where I believed my level was at.
Playing tennis regularly can be challenging on your body. You mention how you played tennis 4 hours a day every day when you were younger. Has this effected you in any way now?
Playing 4 hours a day was tough on my body, but I got used to it and it became my normal. Now if I am not active for 2 days, I feel a little weird because I feel like I should be exercising. I was lucky enough that I never really got injured. I wouldn’t say that tennis has negatively affected my body in any way. If anything, it has just made me very active now which is why I think I have gone into the fitness industry.
You’ve recently been running a ‘Dance Fit’ class which brings together fitness and dancing. What were your reasons for setting up such class, and how are you running it during lockdown?
I teach dance fit now because I really want to help people who don’t enjoy exercising to become more active and adopt a healthier lifestyle whilst enjoying doing so. Due to COVID-19 I am currently teaching my classes on Zoom and through Instagram Live. I am actually not a dancer at all, have never had a dance lesson in my life but I kind of threw myself into it and people seemed to love it and it has since grown from there. I teach all fitness classes now. I have just set up a fitness Instagram to try to help as many people as I can during lockdown to sustain a lifestyle and feel better mentally and physically within themselves.
This interview was conducted by Tom Pittman – Athlete Manager at The S Word