Victoria hadn't played any competitive tennis before joining the Norwich Parks Tennis League back in 2013. Over the last 6 years, she has not only seen her love for the beautiful game grow but also pioneered our first women's league and learned how to handle both failure and success
I have always enjoyed tennis since the days of Navratilova and Graf. Both these players inspired me tremendously in my teens and early twenties. The former set the bar in showing how females could train hard and get physically strong and Steffi was such a professional I was in absolute awe of her! It was in the year of John McEnroe's "You cannot be serious!" protest, 1981, that I began enjoying watching the game on TV. However, apart from the occasional tennis lesson and a knock about in the park, I never actually played the game myself.
I saw an advert on the internet for a local mixed league starting up in Norwich and I took my first baby steps into competitive tennis in April 2013. I dislike doubles but love singles, so was delighted to see a league solely devoted to singles. I don't think I had completed a full match before joining the league, let alone played competitively - it was a steep learning curve!
The competitive, one-on-one nature of singles is what I love. I saw a quote at the O2 in London when I went to the ATP World Tour Finals which summed up singles for me in a nutshell: "I blame myself when I lose and I blame myself when I win!" I love the purity of the singles game: it’s you, your racket and your mind and very often the toughest opponent is yourself. When I win it's not necessarily my shot making but my mind-set.
My playing style is an aggressive baseliner. I like to go for the early strike and attack early in a rally. I like the one/two punch: serve out wide with forehand into the advantage court combo for the winner. My strength is my serve but you live by the serve and die by it so if its on that's awesome but if it isn't you risk double faulting and the match can quickly get away from you.
Gosh, where to start with memorable moments? Norwich Parks was the first city to start up its own women's league after I persuaded Sally and Nigel to give it a try. We are into our third year and still going strong which is a joy to see! So, this alone, brings me great pleasure to see all these women out there competing and getting better. The league arranges twice or thrice yearly socials where we meet somewhere pleasant in Norwich for an off-court catch up and meal. Winning group two twice and group one once are key moments for me as such success came early and unexpectedly back in 2017. I have my three certificates displayed on the wall along with a little cup my fellow player and good friend, Sue, bought me after winning the league. In fact it was Sue who joined me on the first ITF tournament at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy in Majorca organized by Local Tennis Leagues. This was a truly unforgettable experience in the Autumn of 2017.
I have grown to love this beautiful game of tennis more and more. It is a long enduring love affair and absolute passion of mine. Tennis challenges you not only physically but mentally, too. Joining the league has taught me how to lose and I have realised many great champions lose an awful lot before finding success. I have also learnt it isn't always just about winning. Tennis has helped me get through some tough times over the last few years and starting the Norwich Parks Women's League in September 2016 was a real game changer.
Yes I would absolutely encourage others to join! Tennis is such beautiful game that I believe is really anti-ageing with its multidirectional movements, stop, start changes and mental challenges. The key to eternal youth! You get to meet new people and everyone is so friendly. You get to handle failure and success and "treat those two imposters just the same!" and, who knows, you may even get to go on a trip of a lifetime to the Rafa Nadal Academy! Finally, you may even get to feel what Federer feels, when you hit an ace to seal a match!
Inspired to get back on court? There are plenty of opportunites to get involved in Norwich, and you can find all the future round dates here.