Joanna's date with tennis legends
Published 26/04/2013 | 07:59
Holywood's Joanna Minnis has landed a golden opportunity to share a tennis court with some of the legends of the sport.
The 15-year-old Bloomfield Collegiate Grammar School has been handpicked by Wimbledon champion Boris Becker at the Barclays Ball Kids National Trial to be one of 30 who will be there to work at November's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London.
Joanna fought off competition from 101 other young hopefuls at the Riverside Northwood Health and Racquets Club, to win a place and the prospect of sharing a court with the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
The teenager, whose father Peter played Davis Cup for Ireland, was tested on her agility, endurance, ball skills, balance, speed and teamwork and did more than enough to impress Becker and Murray's former coach Mark Petchey.
"The trial was pretty hard work to be honest," she said. "To be out there on court would be one of the biggest achievements of my life and I had my fingers crossed that I was going to be picked.
"It would just be amazing to get out on the court with those players, the guys you normally only see on the TV."
Three-time Wimbledon champion Becker said: "It's a great opportunity for these kids to get involved with the best tennis players in the world.
"It's quite an achievement to get picked out of thousands of kids throughout the whole country.
"To be selected as the top 30 they really have to be good and I hear from the head coach that this year the standard was better than ever.
"It seems to get better and bigger every year and that is not only great for the kids but also great for the sport.
"Tennis is my first love and if I can stay involved, teach the kids about the sport and they can take something away from that as well then it's fantastic."
For more information about the Barclays Ball Kids programme, go to barclaysballkids.com or visit the Barclays Ball Kids Facebook page.