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News Archive > Sport > Rawson ready to make step up and targets WTA ranking

Rawson ready to make step up and targets WTA ranking

By Tom Howe 10th February 2021

Rawson ready to make step up and targets WTA ranking

Newquay tennis ace Nadia Rawson is preparing to embark on a European adventure as she aims to take her game to the next level in 2021, writes Tom Howe.

Coming from a sporting family, Rawson started playing tennis at Bodmin’s Dragon Centre from the age of seven before moving to Newquay and Heron Tennis Centre aged 16.

Now 21, Rawson has impressed in a number of British tournaments, including last year’s five-week UK Pro Series, during which she played some of her best tennis and built a pot of money by playing an incredible 35 matches in 35 days at St George’s Hill on the outskirts of London. 

Rawson has split her final year at Loughborough University, where she is studying sport and exercise science, which allows her to play more and is now hoping to travel through Europe and pick up enough ranking points at three different World Tour competitions, which will ultimately provide her with a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranking.  

“After the first lockdown, a big company put on a tournament called the UK Pro Series that had really a big financial reward,” said Rawson, who won her first British Tour event in December 2019 in Sheffield. “I was lucky to have played some of my best tennis there and it showed that I can compete at that level. I won a lot of money which will hopefully fund me to compete in Europe for the next year.

“I don’t know what my tennis would have been without that tournament. I was competing a lot in Britain but there is only so much you can do in this country before you have to take that next step. I don’t get to play the top players in Britain because they are always travelling. I am quite determined and resilient. Every obstacle that is thrown at me I see as an opportunity to overcome.

“Financially there is always an issue. Tennis is such an expensive sport. It is individual so you don’t get put into a club like in rugby or football where you will be supported that way and of course I am studying at the same time.

“In my second year of university I went on a trip to China with the Loughborough team. We won a big tournament out there which meant we had an all expenses paid trip to the Australian Open which was pretty cool. I also got my first world ranking points that year [in Turkey]. For me, that was a real turning point. After that I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do all the time. Along the way I have made a lot of sacrifices. The time I have spent at home with my family and socialising is so little.

“The UK Pro League starts on March 1 and is one tournament over a week, every two or three weeks, so I am preparing for that now. I am hoping at the end of April I can start travelling Europe. The goal is to pick up points and get my WTA ranking. That would be a major milestone. It is really exciting and is going to be nice to travel a bit and know I have done well enough to have been able to fund it, even if it is just for a little while.”

Rawson is back in Newquay at the moment, using the facilities at Heron to perfect her craft ahead of a return to Loughborough at the end of the month. Steve Askey, Heron’s director of coaching, told the Voice that having Rawson around is a real inspiration for the town’s younger players.

“We have come to know her well and she is part of the Heron family now,” he said. “The person who helped Nadia the most is Guy Leverton, a Newquay guy who works for the Lawn Tennis Association. In her early years, Guy helped her a lot in Bodmin but in the last three or four years she has based herself at Heron when she is not at university or at tournaments.

“She will hit with some of the juniors and play with our adult players. She comes down to do private training on her own where she will practice her serve, volley against the wall and do fitness work on the court. She is a lovely person, with really good manners and has worked really hard.

“Nadia is the most successful player, probably in the last 20 years of Cornish women. Her parents have been there for her but have taken a step back. If she wants to play, she has to arrange it. She has to drive there or get a train, book accommodation and arrange her own practices. It has not been all mums and dads doing everything. The coaches and parents offer support but the players take the lead.

“It is no coincidence that Nadia, and Tad Maclean [another Heron player], have been the most successful players in Cornwall in the last 20 years. It is a good example to set. Nadia’s brother, Jowan, is based at Heron and Elijah Ashmoor is his hitting partner. She is inspiring both of them. Below that, we have Annie Watson and Amy Brown, two of our younger girls who are inspired by Nadia too. It is lovely to have her here.”

Rawson herself added: “It is really beneficial for me to have time at home and I am getting in some really good quality training in now [in Newquay].

“The vibe down there is great and they are always super friendly. To give something back to the younger kids who are watching us older players is really important I think. After I graduate, I want to play tennis full-time and hopefully, by then, I might have some sort of financial backing from someone.

“I won some money last summer but it is not going to last long when I am travelling a lot. The only way I will be able to play tennis after I graduate is if I have someone financially backing me. In some ways, that is really heartbreaking because after all this hard work it is not necessarily in my control.

“I will probably do some coaching on the side as a way of earning money but I will definitely be keeping Loughborough as my main training base.

“Then, when I want to go home, Heron is just around the corner. I am so grateful for so many things. I have worked really hard to get here but there have been a lot of people that have helped me along the way.”

By Tom Howe 10th February 2021

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