One of the UK's most promising young tennis players visited the Lew Hoad Tennis Club in Mijas last week. The rising young star attended a four-day advanced training session, during which he was coached by one of the club's top tennis instructors.
Twelve-year-old J'Quon Du Vall-Richards, from Bath, Somerset, has already secured an impressive collection of titles, including winner of the National Nottingham Open in April 2015. He also attained the highest achievement possible for his age group in the Nike under-10s singles competition in Bournemouth in August of the same year.
J'Quon started playing tennis at the age of eight, although initially for exercise and fun. In January 2013, he began an intensive training programme at the Writhlington Tennis Centre and he quickly developed and progressed as a player. This sports centre has exceptional tennis facilities, especially for youngsters, and under their guidance, J'Quon was soon ranked the under-10s number one player in the UK.
His next break came when he was noticed by Alan Jones, a well-known and respected tennis coach, who suggested that the youngster should go to London for training. J'Quon's mother, Jenna, raised enough money to make the trip in September 2016; however, J'Quon became unhappy and stopped enjoying his tennis. He claimed he felt that he was never going to be good enough and his self-confidence began to falter. He also began to miss his friends back home and so his mother, who was struggling to pay the 4,000-pound fees, decided to return to Bath after the first season.
After a short break, the 12-year-old returned to his training at the Writhlington Tennis Club and is enjoying playing tennis again.
“I'm quite excited about the future. I would love to play at Wimbledon one day, but I think that I have a long way to go before that,” the politely-spoken young hopeful told SUR in English.
However, the road to success is expensive and J'Quon's mother is finding it difficult to finance her son's future in tennis. He has recently secured sponsorship from Wilsons Rackets, although this only covers the cost of his racket and strings.
“I would hate J'Quon to suffer because of my financial circumstances, but I just cannot afford to support his career any more. We are desperately trying to find sponsorship so that J'Quon can continue with his training,” Jenna explained.
During his stay in Mijas, J'Quon was accessed by former Australian tennis champion, Jenny Hoad.
Jenny - former owner of the Lew Hoad Tennis Club in Mijas and widow of the man whose name the club bears - instantly recognised great potential in him.
“J'Quon is a confident young player and there are very few things technically that he needs to change; I am very pleased to be able to offer a little help,” Jenny said.
Jenny hopes to bring him back to Spain for a full summer training session next year.