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Harrogate school's head of tennis joins GB padel team

Ashville’s Sophie Cousins and Angela Crossley.

A Harrogate school’s head of tennis is currently in Spain competing against the best padel players from across the globe.

La Nucia is hosting the International Padel Federation’s Seniors World Championships and Ashville College’s Sophie Cousins is among the women’s squad representing Great Britain.

She joins fellow Wetherby Padel Club coach Angela Crossley on the 16-strong team competing in the sport, thought to have originated in Mexico in the late 1960s.

And they got off to the perfect start last night (Tuesday) by beating Norway 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Sophie said:

“Obviously, it’s an honour to have been selected and I’m excited to have been invited to have join the squad for the tournament.

“There’s bound to be some tough opposition but, like in any sport, it’s a privilege to be able to test yourself against the best.

“Yorkshire has a tradition for turning out sportsmen and women who’ve excelled on the international stage so, while Angela and I will be doing our best for Team GB, we’ll also try to do the White Rose proud.”

A cross between tennis and squash, padel is played on an enclosed court with playable walls. The balls are softer than those used in tennis and racquets are usually solid rather than stringed.

One big difference to tennis is that the serve must be below waist height – although quite a few renowned tennis players have excelled at padel too.

The sport is now the second most popular in Spain, second only to football.

However, its international popularity grew significantly during the pandemic as it’s possible to play indoors and with no physical contact.

Today, an estimated 25 million players participate in over 90 countries.

Head of Ashville College, Rhiannon Wilkinson, said Sophie’s success has been an inspiration for pupils, who have been cheering her on back in Harrogate.

She said:

“Sophie’s selection for Team GB is a great example of what any of us can achieve if we’re open to new experiences and prepared to give our best.

“Like many padel players, tennis might be her first sport but trying something a bit different has given Sophie an opportunity to represent her country.

“That really is something to be proud of, not just for Sophie but for the whole of the Ashville community too.”

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