London 2012 Paralympian Louise Hunt has toured the world competing in some of the most prestigious events in world tennis. As well as continuing to compete at the top of the game, Louise is also an athlete mentor, motivational speaker and Young Disabled Peoples User Led Organisation (DPULO) Ambassador.
Ahead of Great British Tennis Weekend on 13th and 14th May, we caught up with Louise to talk about her career to date and the great sport of tennis.
What is your career highlight so far?
I would say that qualifying and competing for my first Paralympics in London 2012 is still a highlight. Although I didn't get the results I was hoping for, it was so special to have that experience of competing in front of a home crowd.
Plans for the next 4 years? Tokyo?
I like to plan for short terms goals one at a time, which all eventually add up to one long term goal (Tokyo). So this year is more about training hard and improving on my game all round, as last year was so busy competing with so many tournaments, it was all about rankings and results. This year I want to make big gains across my game which I hope will help me break the top 10 next year!
How has the GLL Sport Foundation helped you and your career?
I really love being a part of GLL and I massively appreciate the support! Financially GLL have helped me with training and travel costs but on top of this just being a part of a great team that is so supportive is the best help!
Wheelchair tennis has seen real growth and exposure in recent years, how has this changed to previous years?
The biggest change is how many people know about the sport now. Our increased exposure has been amazing for not only promoting some of our best athletes, but showing people what can be achieved in our sport, encouraging young people to get involved and enjoy playing and watching our competitive sport. It's really great seeing participation increase, alongside the media becoming more and more interested in publicising wheelchair tennis! It's exciting to see!
What is the biggest challenge for people wanting to take up wheelchair tennis?
I think it is often just not knowing where to go, but actually wheelchair tennis is not much different to able-bodied tennis. You don't need other people in wheelchairs to play the game (which I think is a common misunderstanding), I practice with people on their feet as often as players in wheelchairs.
What advice would you give to any junior players or youngsters thinking of picking up the sport?
Give it a go! You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Tennis is a fun sport and great way to have fun with your friends and family, you can play with anyone and anywhere. You don't always necessarily need a court and a net to play tennis, be creative and enjoy trying something new.
If you could sum up tennis in 3 words, what would they be?
Unpredictable, Skilled, Exciting.
We’re hosting 17 Great British Tennis Weekend events this May, what impact do these kind of initiatives have on the sport?
These events are a fantastic way to promote tennis and give people of all ages and abilities to come along and have a go. It's always great to see the interest on new people playing on these days and even better to see participation in our sport grow as a result of them.
Thanks for catching up with us Louise.