Sheffield tennis girl’s Wimbledon dream

Georgia Lawson in action
Georgia Lawson in action
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A year ago the nation embraced Andy Murray fever and millions of pairs of eyes, including Georgia Lawson’s, were glued to their television sets as tennis balls fizzed across the centre court at Wimbledon.

Fast forward 12 months and the 15-year-old found herself stepping out, racket in hand, to compete in the first-round junior Wimbledon match last week against Australian Lizette Cabrera - who is ranked over 300 places above her in the ITF standings.

“It was the first grand slam I have played in and I was very nervous,” the Abbeydale Tennis club based player said.

“Stepping out onto the grass court was incredible, though, and the atmosphere was amazing - it’s like a tennis bubble draped in so much history and prestige.

“It was a challenge playing on grass and in the first set I found it very difficult to relax, which affected my game, but in the second I was able to find my feet and get better contact with the ball.”

Unfortunately for Georgia she was beaten 6-1 6-4 by her 17-year-old opponent - but the defeat only gave the youngster even more motivation to compete again next year.

“Nobody enjoys losing but on the day my competitor was better than me, simple as that,” the former under-16 Nottingham county championship winner said.

“But I’m determined to be back there again.

“I want to be competing in all the grand slams next year and that means continuously getting my ranking (currently ITF 492) up. But I know winning and success doesn’t come easy.

“You have to work hard every day and that’s why I look at every session and how I can improve and what I need to do to reach my long term goals.”

Georgia started playing when she was just five years of age at a local club in Nottingham, and a year ago she moved to be coached at Abbeydale Tennis club in Sheffield.

To further her tennis career she left school at the beginning of Year 8 to be home tutored - which enabled her to train six hours a day.

“It was so hard leaving my friends,” she added, “and now they are all going out to parties and socialising at the weekend and instead I’m off travelling to a different tournament.

“But I make sure I get a good balance and still see them. Also, I’ve made sure my education hasn’t suffered and fit it in around my training with fixed hours for tutoring. I want to do well in my GCSEs and come out with good grades so it’s not all about tennis.”

Georgia has competed in tournaments in different places all over Europe including Poland, Sweden and Germany - but her most memorable was even further afield.

She won the 2014 Doubles Nairobi International Junior Championships in Kenya, and admitted: “That was an eye opener. The conditions were horrendous but playing out there was so much fun. I loved taking in all the sites and culture and the trip holds so many great memories for me.”

This year alone Georgia will participate in over 30 tournaments and will be coached by Josh Gledden and her father Rupert who took over the role permanently two years ago.

The talented youngster is renowned for her powerful serve - but making the move from junior to senior level so soon has had its challenges.

“My serve is what everybody is afraid of and on a good day people don’t even get close to returning it,” she smiled.

“Which is what you always aim for because the serve is a big element in the game which you can control.

“But I will keep improving on everything - I have to, because now I’m competing against much bigger and stronger opposition and there is much more emphasis on coming into the net, so I need to be more aggressive and attacking in my play.

“Each match will bring a different challenge but the most important part of my game is trying to stay calm on the court and be mentally prepared.

“It’s easy to lose your head when it’s getting tough but I always try to relax on court.

“I’ve yet to break a racket when training or playing on court in anger or frustration so fingers crossed it will stay that way!”