Well, what a year it has been, full of highs, lows, and some challenging times. But I would not have it any other way.
January started so positively, however, fortunes soon changed as I seriously dislocated my shoulder while training.
The shoulder surgeon said I would be out of action for some time and it could be months before back to competing. But he did not know how I roll.
I had an intensive rehab program and was back competing within 7 weeks. Getting back to full fitness was a challenge and I had some tough losses. But it’s times like this where you have to believe in the process and yourself.
In the spring I was invited by Rotary to attend the Commonwealth Day at Westminster with my sister Katie. It was such a fantastic experience and a memory to treasure.
This also allowed me the time to take part in the Rotary Great Britain & Ireland Manchester Action Summit alongside other inspirational speakers and to meet some special Rotarians who have supported me.”
Heading into the summer I had a busy schedule, with tournaments in Italy, the UK, France, Spain, and 2 in Belgium. The tournament in Nottingham is always a special one as it is home, and this year came with added pressure as I was defending my titles. But just to make it more fun I was sitting exams for university at the same, as I had missed them earlier in the year while representing Great Britain at the World Team Cup in Portugal.
I retained the doubles title and went into the singles final, which turned out to be the match of my life. After long rain delays, I lost the first set, before winning the next set. However, I then went 4-1 down in the third set.
I started to pull back but then found myself facing 2 championship points against me. But I kept my composure and having my family and friends there supporting me really helped me to lift my game. I dug deep and turned the match around to win 5-7 6-1 7-6.
It was such an amazing feeling to retain both my titles, but mostly to do it at home.
After a summer of being on tour, I headed back into my studies again, starting my 3rd year of my degree. I decided, as it is the Paralympics year in 2024, that I could not try to qualify and be a full-time student. So I split my final year to allow me to attend more tournaments and train more hours.
This also allowed me the time to take part in the Rotary Great Britain & Ireland Manchester Action Summit alongside other inspirational speakers and to meet some special Rotarians who have supported me.
I continued competing and balancing my studies, which at times was difficult. In November I found myself facing quite a big funding shortage, as I had 3 tournaments, 2 in Croatia and 1 in Tenerife that I really needed to attend, and if I did well and got the results I knew I was capable of, I could potentially reach one of my long term goals that had been set.
Once again it was my parents that made the sacrifices and paid the £2500 that I needed for flights and tournament fees.
This came with pressure as I really did not want to let them down and I knew that if I won all 3 of the tournaments I would only earn approximately £400 in total as prize money, which is no where near the costs of the tournaments because until you compete at grand slam level, you can not earn a living wage and are heavily relying on sponsorship and financial support from others.
In Croatia it was so tough as I played 8 matches in 2 days as we had horrendous weather. But I did it and won both singles and doubles in both the tournaments.
This year, I have learnt I’m more resilient than I thought, and that I am truly blessed and so very lucky to have the life I do.”
I then headed into my last international tournament of the year in Tenerife but with an injury. I had to change the way I play to get through it but, once again, I trusted my ability and won singles and doubles.
I returned home on the Sunday evening absolutely buzzing and eternally grateful to my parents to funding me as it meant that, on Monday when the world rankings were released, I was woman’s 37th in the world, but most importantly I was now Great Britain’s Women’s No.2 and will finish the year holding the position.
It has been an incredibly successful year winning a total of 11 ITF (International Tennis Federation) Women’s singles and doubles titles giving me a total of 23 titles and reaching my goal of British Number 2. I am finishing the year taking part in a wheelchair tennis showcase at Wimbledon in a friendly against the Netherlands women and helping to coach the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club) members in wheelchair tennis.
I will then have a week off for Christmas before training will start again to prepare for the new year of tournaments and in the hope of realising my dream of qualifying for the Paralympics, although this is heavily dependent on me securing new sponsorship to help with my expanding costs.
This year, I have learnt I’m more resilient than I thought, and that I am truly blessed and so very lucky to have the life I do as my life gives me the most wonderful opportunities and memories that will last a life time.