Tag Archives: students

Heather Watson reaping benefits of Nick Bollettieri Academy move

Leaving home at 12 to go to USA for tennis took guts, but that's… Plucky Heather!

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 15 October 2012

Michelle Watson, Heather's mum, used to curse the fact that the 80 or so miles that lie between Guernsey and the British mainland make it one of the most expensive stretches of water to cross in the world.

It is a major reason why, when her daughter started to show enough promise as a youngster to start taking tennis seriously, the family quickly realised they needed to start looking further afield if she was to properly progress.

With the kind of determination that marked her performance in saving four match points to win the Japan Open on Sunday — ending a 24-year wait for a British winner on the Women’s Tour — they started scouting for a base.

Always smiling: Heather Watson

Bags of potential: A smiling Heather Watson was a smash hit at junior Wimbledon

Bags of potential: The ever-smiling Heather Watson as a child (left) and a smash hit at junior Wimbledon (right)

Spain was considered, as was the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, the LTA’s gated community about which opinion in the sport is heavily divided.

In the end, taking a deep breath to absorb the large fees charged to non-scholarship students, and the travel involved, the Watson family plumped for the tried and tested Nick Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

It turned out to be a successful move and raises the question whether Watson would have come close to achieving her potential if she had not gone through the character-building upheavals involved.

As the man who founded the eponymous training centre pointed out, the results of both the men’s and women’s Japan Opens have been cause for a double celebration in Bradenton.

While Watson triumphed, the men’s event saw a historic win for Bollettieri old boy Kei Nishikori, who came from even further away to learn the game in Florida and is now his country’s first winner of its home championship.

Making history: Watson ended Britain's 24-year wait for a women's singles title in Japan on Sunday

Making history: Watson ended Britain's 24-year wait for a women's singles title in Japan on Sunday

Time and again in tennis you see that displacement at a relatively young age has been the precursor to a stellar career. The octogenarian super coach can highlight the likes of his star ex-pupils such as Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, but there are European examples too.

Novak Djokovic left Belgrade aged twelve to attend a tennis school in Munich while Andy Murray honed his game at the Casal-Sanchez Academy in Barcelona.

‘If you look at where the champions have come out of, from the Eighties onwards it’s clear the benefits of the academy,’ Bollettieri, a man with the enthusiasm of half his 81 years, told Sportsmail. ‘It’s not just that you have got opponents from different places that you practise with and have to beat. You see an extra determination and mental strength from those who have been away from home.’

Proud: Heather with her mum Michelle

Proud: Heather with her mum Michelle

Being far removed from your roots is not something unfamiliar in the Watson family. Michelle comes from a village in Papua New Guinea and met Heather’s father Ian, a Mancunian, when he was working in the capital Port Moresby. They moved to the Channel Islands, where Ian worked for the Guernsey Electricity Board, and got into tennis at the Kings Club.

It is a world removed from the Bradenton Academy that Heather, accompanied for long periods by her mother, moved to at the age of 12 while enrolling at the local school.

‘Heather was always a character, always smiling, and began to show ability around the age of 16,’ said Bollettieri. ‘She used to pray for her opponents to miss, but gradually she learned to go after the ball and make things happen herself.’

Up until she won the US Open juniors in 2009 Bollettieri believed she might be best served by going to an American university but that success changed his thinking.

‘She takes the ball early and has developed a good volley. It should not be under-estimated how much playing doubles has helped her (she is Britain’s top-ranked doubles player). She is not a big girl at 5ft 7in but makes up for it with her movement so there is plenty of potential.

'Remember she could not have done it without supportive parents, and your Fed Cup captain Judy Murray has also been a very positive influence.’

Of course, perspective is needed and as a grounded individual Watson will know that. She has only beaten four top-50 players since March, compared with the nine that have fallen to Laura Robson in the same period. Robson remains the more likely to win a Grand Slam down the line.

On the up: Watson has broken into the world's top 50 following her triumph in Osaka

On the up: Watson has broken into the world's top 50 following her triumph in Osaka

As for Judy Murray, she looks to have a decent Fed Cup team in the making with Jo Konta another top-100 player in the making.

Wimbledon champions Jonny Marray and Danish partner Frederik Nielsen have qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 next month. Depth may be lacking but these are heady times at the top of the British game.

London 2012 Olympics: Tom Daley will bounce back from abuse – Ruta Meilutyte

Daley will bounce back from Twitter abuse to star at Games, says Plymouth pal Ruta

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UPDATED:

13:39 GMT, 4 August 2012

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Olympic swimming champion Ruta Meilutyte is sure her friend Tom Daley will bounce back from the abuse he received on Twitter.

A 17-year-old youth was arrested and issued with a harassment warning on Tuesday after the British teenage diver received an abusive message about his late father on the micro-blogging site.

Meilutyte shot to fame this week when she won the women's 100m breaststroke at the age of 15.

Olympians: Plymouth College students Tom Daley and Ruta Meilutyte (right)

Olympians: Plymouth College students Tom Daley and Ruta Meilutyte (right)

Agony: Daley after the men's synchronised 10m platform final

Glory: Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte poses with her gold medal

Agony and ecstasy: Daley and Meilutyte have had mixed Games so far

The Lithuanian, who attends the same training facility as Daley in Plymouth, has been following the diver's progress throughout the Olympics and is sure he will be able to block out the furore when he returns to action next week in the 10-metre individual platform.

'He is strong so those tweets won't mean anything to him,' Meilutyte said.
'There are always horrible people who will comment on things they don't know about. It's just unfortunate.

'I personally only have one parent (Meilutyte's mother died in a car accident 11 years ago) so I am kind of in a similar position to him so he's a big inspiration to me.'

Daley is currently in Southend preparing for his next appearance at the Games on Friday.

Euro 2012: Poland is safe says government

Polish government hits out at Campbell and insists country is safe for fans

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UPDATED:

17:09 GMT, 30 May 2012

Poland have guaranteed the safety of fans at Euro 2012 and criticised Sol Campbell for telling supporters not to travel to the tournament.

The former England defender made his remarks after BBC Panorama visited Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine and Poland and filmed Nazi salutes on the terraces, black players being taunted with monkey chants, and an assault on a group of Asian students.

But Malgorzata Wozniak, a spokeswoman for the Polish ministry of interior, expressed surprise at the statement and said hundreds of thousands of police would ensure fans’ safety.

Violence: Baton-wielding Ukrainian riot police wade into Dynamo Kiev fans

Violence: Baton-wielding Ukrainian riot police wade into Dynamo Kiev fans

She said: 'The ministry of interior and the Polish security services are ready to ensure the safety of all football fans and players who come to Euro 2012 in Poland.

'The Polish police force has been preparing the security procedures for many years, taking into account various possible scenarios.'

She added: 'In response to the statement of the former England captain, Sol Campbell, the Polish Government is surprised that the report contains the opinion of one person only and failed to include the views of international security experts.'

She said there had been lengthy co-operation between the Polish and British police.

'Liaison officers from the British police are coming to Poland during the tournament to assist and cooperate with the Polish police based on previous exchanges of information and consultation,' she said.

Warning: Sol Campbell has told England fans to stay away from Euro 2012

Warning: Sol Campbell has told England fans to stay away from Euro 2012

Of the 16 teams taking part, 13 including England have opted to stay in Polish cities.

Meanwhile, Football Association chairman David Bernstein is positive there will not be any trouble for England’s players or fans at Euro 2012.

The families of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have already indicated they will not make the journey amid fears of racial abuse.

But Bernstein believes as long as supporters take the recommended advice, there is no reason why they cannot have an enjoyable trip.

“People are planning carefully and have had advice and our supporters have from the government about the situation out there,' Bernstein told Sky Sports News.

'But hopefully things will go well.

Fearsome: A shot of a scene inside the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv

Fearsome: A shot of a scene inside the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv

'We’re going into this tournament in every way very positively.'

Bernstein also revealed he has not briefed the England players on what to do should they suffer racial abuse, saying they will deal with the situation should it arise.

'We’ll take things as they come,' he added. 'We don’t stop just start looking for problems – that’s easy to to do.

'You get some sensational stuff as well around this.

'We know there are some underlying issues but hopefully it will stay underlying and we won’t be faced with these things.

'We have planned very carefully for what might happen but we sincerely hope it won’t.'

Anonymous plot Canada Grand Prix disruption

Cyber hacker anarchists Anonymous warn Canada Grand Prix fans of fresh plot

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UPDATED:

12:22 GMT, 30 May 2012

Cyber-anarchist group Anonymous are threatening another attack on Formula One during the Canadian Grand Prix on June 10 in support of protesting Quebec students.

They have warned potential attendees to the event that they might be able to access their credit card information via the F1 servers.

The internet hacking organisation successfully managed to disrupt the official Formula One website throughout last month's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Trouble brewing: Mark Webber won the last race, but the next one could be disrupted

Trouble brewing: Mark Webber won the last race, but the next one could be disrupted

The attack, under the title of
'Operation Bahrain', was carried out on the basis of what they perceived
as 'the incredible human rights abuses of the Bahrain regime'.

On this occasion Anonymous are firmly behind the students across Quebec voicing their anger against their government's proposed hike in tuition fees, with protests now into their 107th day.

Notably, Anonymous are against perceived human rights injustices following an emergency law introduced on May 18 known as Bill 78 that 'restricts freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds and anywhere in Quebec without prior police approval'.

Anonymous have already claimed responsibility for shutting down Quebec government and police websites since the introduction of Bill 78 that has allowed police to act, sending arrests soaring to over 2,500.

In their latest statement, Anonymous feel disrupting the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, one of the most popular events on the F1 calendar, will send out another firm message to Quebec premier Jean Charest.

The statement read: 'As we did in Bahrain, Anonymous intends to wreck Mr Ecclestone's little party.

Plan: Anonymous are planning a cyber attack

Plan: Anonymous are planning a cyber attack

'Beginning on June 7 and running through race day on June 10, Anonymous will take down all the F1 websites, dump the servers and databases and wreck anything else F1-related we can find on the internet.

'We would like to remind anyone considering attending this abominable race that last time Anonymous found all the spectators' personal data, including credit card numbers unencrypted on F1 servers.

'Anonymous will be among many protesters targeting the Grand Prix.

'A number of students are also set to protest, something that the F1's organisers will be wary of, considering the race could bring around 100million Canadian dollars (62million) to the area.

'We highly suggest you join the boycott of the F1 in Montreal and we certainly recommend you not purchase any tickets or F1 merchandise online.

'You have been warned.'

Euro 2012: Sol Campbell warns England fans to stay away

Stay away or die! You could 'come home in a coffin' Sol warns England fans

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UPDATED:

23:02 GMT, 27 May 2012

Sol Campbell has warned England fans not to travel to Euro 2012 because they ‘could end up coming back in a coffin’.

The former Arsenal and Tottenham defender believes visiting Poland or Ukraine is too much of a risk owing to the threat of violence and racism.

Campbell, who won 73 caps for England, has insisted UEFA were wrong to award such a prestigious tournament to the two countries.

Clash: Violence in Ukraine has been highlighted by Sol Campbell (below)

Clash: Violence in Ukraine has been highlighted by Sol Campbell (below)

Sol Campbell has highlighted racism in Ukraine

The 37-year-old told the BBC’s Panorama: ‘Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don’t even risk it … because you could end up coming back in a coffin. I think they were wrong (to award Euro 2012 to Poland and Ukraine), because what they should say is that if you want this tournament you sort your problems out.

‘Until we see that you have sorted it out, you are never going to get the tournament. You do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country.’

Trouble ahead: England fans and players could face abuse in Ukraine

Trouble ahead: England fans and players could face abuse in Ukraine

The families of several black players, such as Theo Walcott, Joleon Lescott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, have no plans to go, citing concerns about possible racist abuse.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s father, former England international Mark Chamberlain, told Sky Sports News: ‘There have been reports of racist taunts and threats so it’s just prudent for myself to keep away from it.’

Warning: Alex Oxlade Chamberlain's family may not travel to the Ukraine

Warning: Alex Oxlade Chamberlain's family may not travel to the Ukraine

The BBC documentary, to be screened on Monday, shows fans giving Nazi salutes, taunting black players with monkey noises, anti-Semitic chants and a group of Asian students being attacked at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, which will host three group matches.