Wheelchair tennis star starts coaching course in Southampton

Wheelchair tennis star Andrew Penney

Submitted by Meadow Comms

A wheelchair tennis player prepares to pass on his skills to the next generation after starting a sports coaching course in Southampton, Hampshire.

Reigning LTA National Wheelchair Tennis Men’s Singles champion Andrew Penney, 17, is studying for his BTEC coaching qualification at Richard Taunton Sixth Form College after being inspired to learn more about it by his own coaches.

The two-year training course is run by the college in partnership with the Saints Federation of Southampton FC.

Andrew said: “During my own tennis training, I was always very involved in working on myself as a player, but I also started taking points into account to help improve my knowledge of coaching. That’s really what got me more interested in becoming a coach.

“I love learning how to coach others and treat my body with more respect in terms of food, sleep and nutrition. I plan to pass my LTA level one tennis coaching qualification this summer and hopefully -the, my level two qualification thereafter.

“College helps me balance my studies with competing, which is invaluable and helps me strive for excellence in my sport.”

Currently 158th in the world ranking of the International Tennis Federation, the young West Tisted, near Winchester, already has three active his men’s titles this year after a successful tournament in Bolton, where he also won two junior titles.

He added: “I’m really happy with my performances, winning all but one game quite comfortably.

“The men’s singles final was less comfortable though, it took four hours.”

His success means he has a high enough world ranking to automatically qualify for ITF Tier Two and Tier Three tournaments.

The youngster, who started using a wheelchair after complications from ingrown toenail surgery in 2018, trains up to 15 hours a week depending on tournament commitments.

Next up for Andrew is a junior tournament in Knokke, Belgium with the possibility of a men’s tournament in the United States later in the spring.

He hopes that the college’s support and his successes on the court will inspire young athletes, whatever their sport or level.

Tom Barge, one of Andrew’s tutors, said: “Working with Andrew has been a pleasure as he has a fantastic attitude both in his work and in his tennis.

“His love for sport and especially tennis has allowed him to give coaching sessions to his peers and he is on track to obtain a Distinction* for his work this year.

“He’s shown incredible commitment to being able to juggle his studies and tennis and has shown incredible progress in both. We’re really proud of him.”

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