Risbygate Tennis Club member Anya Taylor making impression on Tennis Europe Junior Tour and has Junior Wimbledon debut in her sights
She may be just 13 but Ipswich-based Anya Taylor is already making a name for herself on tennis courts around Europe.
The Risbygate Sports Club member has been the talk of the Bury St Edmunds tennis club since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions finally allowed her to play a first international tournament last November.
Since then she has already hit her original season targets of reaching her first Grade 1 tournament – in Cheltenham earlier this week – and ranking inside the top 200 on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour.
And over the next week she will be looking to qualify for her first taste of Wimbledon - the Junior version - as she plays in the inaugural Junior International Roehampton – Tennis Europe Junior Tour's first ever grass court event.
The Category 1 event will give players a chance to compete on the famous courts on which the Wimbledon qualifying competition itself is played.
Taylor will have to reach the final of the under-14 competition that begins tomorrow in order to go forward to compete in this summer's Junior Wimbledon competition
The former Guildhall Feoffment and Stonham Aspal Primary School pupil, who is now home schooled in Ipswich, had already shot to prominence on the local scene by winning the Suffolk Under-14s Singles title as well as the county’s U16s and U18s Doubles.
It all began when her PE teachers, recognising her excellent hand-eye co-ordination, suggested she give a racket sport a go.
Titan Tennis founder Paul Hope gave the then seven-and-a-half year old her first lesson at Risbygate Sports Club in Bury.
“When Anya began training with me she showed great promise,” he said.
“She has always wanted to improve and get to the next level and she has been a pleasure to coach and watch grow.”
Taylor, who was born in Bury St Edmunds, was playing for Suffolk less than a year after that first lesson.
She demonstrated how far she has progressed earlier this year when she made the quarter-finals at the Grade 2 national tournament in Bath.
In March, in just her fourth tournament on the prestigious Tennis Europe Junior Tour, she reached the semi-finals of the Grade 3 Cinia Next Generation Tour event in Nastola, Finland.
A week later she made it back-to-back semi-finals in the singles at the Clarkson Platou Norwegian Open in Oslo, followed by the quarter-finals in the Santa Marina Junior Cup U14s event in Sozopol, Bulgaria, in early May where she also reached the semi-finals of the doubles.
And the ambition is to follow in the footsteps of some of those illustrious names who also started out on the same junior tour – including Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin.
“My dream is to one day to play on the WTA Tour and to play on the grass at Wimbledon along with so many other tournaments,” she said.
There is no tennis background in her family as such, but plenty of sporting pedigree with her mother Kirsty having represented Great Britain as a long distance runner.
Women’s sports brand Lucky In Love and world-leading tennis equipment provider Yonex need no convincing of her potential having added her to their sponsorship rosters.
Taylor’s recent deep passages in Tennis Europe Junior Tour events are rewards for her hard graft; training six days a week (20 hours) between Risbygate and Billericay.
But her father Paul is keen not to put too much pressure on her young shoulders and focus on some of the non-financial rewards.
He said: “The best thing about playing the sport of tennis is that it comes with many friendships which are made along the way, and this is something that Anya particularly enjoys.”
* Anya and her parents would welcome sponsorship from local businesses. Email email@example.com to discuss.