Izzie,11, sets her sights on tennis success
SHE'S not even 5ft tall but Hanham's Isabelle Britton is already a formidable presence on the tennis court.
For the 11-year-old, whose heroes are Andy Murray and Johanna Konta, is already representing her country at international tennis.
Isabelle, or Izzie as she's known to her family and friends, has recently returned from London after she was selected by the Lawn Tennis Association to represent GB in the U12s team.
Along with five other girls and six boys, Isabelle played daily singles and doubles matches in the week-long Queenswood International Tournament where GB finished fourth against eight countries including the Czech Republic, France, Belgium, Holland and Sweden.
It appears Isabelle's sporting prowess runs in the family – her dad Neil was a tennis coach and mum Claire represented the county in the hurdles and 100m sprint.
Sports mad Izzie, who has just left Beacon Rise primary, started playing tennis with her dad at the council courts in Kingswood Park at the age of four.
Two years later she joined Woodlands Tennis Club in Hanham and began to take the game seriously.
Neil, who lives with Claire and their son Archie, aged seven, said: “I decided I didn't want to be her coach any more, I wanted to be her dad, so she started being coached at Woodlands Tennis Club in Hanham when she was six. I could see she had potential.
“She progressed from there to county level and won numerous county championships and she's currently the 12 and under county champion.”
When Isabelle hit 10, she was picked for regional training, playing alongside the best young players in the south west.
It was during her Friday morning training at Bath University, a sporting centre of excellence, she was picked to go to national camps to enable her to hone her skills as a potential future professional.
Neil said: “The last one she attended was in La Manga in Spain – the lucky devil. She said there was a football team training there but she didn't know which one it was!”
Isabelle, who celebrated her 11th birthday on June 28, first represented Great Britain last December and has now made her second appearance.
Neil has no doubt that Isabelle will end up with a career in sport and, although she would love to become a tennis professional, she is realistic and knows very few make it.
But she's definitely on the right track and has even won a sports scholarship to study at Bath University in September where she will be able to hone her racket skills alongside studying for her GCSEs.
“It's very difficult to balance her education and tennis but from September both will be structured as one, said Neil.
“She's nervous but she's looking forward to the challenge.
“Izzie plays between 20 and 22 hours a week of tennis, so she puts a lot of work in. Primarily she has the goal of becoming a professional tennis player but she is very realistic and know the odds are stacked against her. She loves sports so much that her career and life will definitely be in a sporting environment.”
Neil said special thanks must go to Isabelle's two coaches – Pete Evans, of Woodlands Tennis Club, and Martin Bray at David Lloyd in Long Ashton.
“They both look after her – they've been brilliant,” Neil said.
Rachel Leonard, from Beacon Rise, said: “It goes without saying that the school is extremely proud of Isabelle and her achievements. She has been delight to teach and has been a hardworking and friendly pupil.”
Neil said he would love to find a sponsor for his daughter as the costs involved can mount up.
“When we take her to a national tournament, we have to take time off work, pay for the tournament, hotel, food and so on. You're looking at about £500 for each tournament. Soon Izzie will be playing Tennis Europe so will have to start travelling abroad then it will be double the cost. For a normal family like we are, it's ridiculously expensive.”
If any individual or company would like to find out more about sponsoring Isabelle, you can email Neil on firstname.lastname@example.org