OUTSIDE of the Commonwealth Youth Games, the Junior Home Nations is the only opportunity for young, Welsh tennis stars to represent their country – and seven promising local players will follow in the footsteps of international tennis stars Andy and Jamie Murray to compete for a Junior Home Nations Title.
The elite tennis tournament for ages 10 – 18 will take place at Corby Tennis Centre, September 24-26.
The 16 players selected to represent Wales – with seven of the players from Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, and Llanelli – have a lot to live up to: Team Wales has successfully won the past two junior tournaments in Belfast and Wrexham in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Following such success, many of the players are more excited than ever to return to the competitive court, with the youngest competitor aged just 10 years old. Isabella Morgan, 10 from Llanelli, is hoping to emulate the success of current Welsh number one, Evan Hoyt.
Isabella stated: “As I come from the same club [Swansea Tennis Centre] as Evan Hoyt, I would love to follow in his footsteps. I’m also playing a year early in my age group. I’m really excited and looking forward to compete and represent my country against the other nations.”
13-year-old Mimi Xu, originally from Swansea, knows what it’s like to represent her country on an international stage: the schoolgirl recently competed as one of the youngest players at Junior Wimbledon 2021 and hopes to lead the Welsh team to victory after learning from her experience at the UK’s most high-profile tennis event. Mimi said: “To represent Wales is always an honour and a great experience”.
Fellow 13-year-old Elizabeth Evans is also an extremely dedicated player – she travels over 100 miles every day to play Tennis at Swansea Tennis Centre after school in Cardiff before returning home to Port Talbot.
Elizabeth said: “This is the second time I have been selected to play for Wales at Home Nations and I feel so proud to be part of the Welsh team. The last time I represented Wales we won the whole tournament which was such a fantastic feeling and experience. We have got great players in the team this year, so we are hoping to win the Home Nations again.”
In the older age category, sports star Wil Jenkins, 17, from Neath, hopes to continue making his family proud after his brother Harri competed at the Paralympics and came home with a bronze medal in athletics. Will said: “I’m extremely proud to represent my country and to wear the Welsh shirt.”
Mark Lewis, Competition and Events Manager at Tennis Wales, said: “The Junior Home Nations is a fantastic opportunity for young, Welsh players to showcase the talent we have in this great nation. We’re excited to see everyone bring their a-game and hopefully we will come away with a win for the third year in a row.
“It’s incredible to see the talent coming out of Swansea and the surrounding areas. The players are a credit to their clubs, coaches, and nation. Swansea Tennis Centre and Regional Player Development Centre in Swansea have done a great job in helping to develop and nurture the talent of our attendees.”
Half of the players competing from Swansea and its surrounding area play and train at Swansea Tennis Centre – Home to Swansea Tennis Academy, and social enterprise Tennis Swansea 365. The venue has become one of the leading four-court indoor centres in the UK for junior performance tennis.
The Junior Home Nations competition has around 50 players participating each year The job of hosting the event rotates annually around each of the four nations with this year being England’s turn to do so at Corby Tennis Centre.
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