Hackney teenager claims twin triumph at national championships in Nottingham

Hackney tennis player Lauryn John-Baptiste

Hackney tennis player Lauryn John-Baptiste - Credit: Archant

Hackney tennis sensation Lauryn John-Baptiste has capped a memorable summer with double delight at the Under-18 national championships in Nottingham.

John-Baptiste saw off the No 1 seed en route to winning the singles title against Kent’s Flo Abbott 6-3 6-1 in the final, and the Victoria Park starlet also managed to retain the doubles crown alongside Emily Appleton.

The success came on the same day that John-Baptiste, who lives in Hackney Wick, learned she had passed all her GCSE exams with B and C grades.

“It was quite a day, getting my results and returning to east London with two titles,” she told the Gazette.

“Beating the No 1 seed has really given me that extra confidence that I could go on and win and, having lost in the quarter-finals of the Under-16s last year, it’s great to see how far I’ve progressed.

“It was great fun playing with Emily [Appleton] in the doubles. We’ve played with each other quite a few times and we’ve always done really well.

“We went into the competition hoping we’d make the final, but to win it is fantastic. We actually got a walkover to win the title in the end, but the semi-final was extremely tough.”

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After quite a party in the John-Baptiste household, the 16-year-old now returns to Talbot Heath School in Bournemouth this week, determined to maintain her studies alongside her burgeoning tennis career.

Geography and psychology will be Lauryn’s choices of A-Levels, and she will hope to nurture the mental strength to find a route to future success on the Women’s Junior ITF Tour.

John-Baptiste is fresh from sampling her first Junior Wimbledon Championships, having found out about her wild card into the tournament only two days before the event.

Although she suffered a first- round defeat to the more experienced American Ingrid Neel in straight sets, 6-4 6-2, the student believes she has emerged a far stronger player from the experience.

“It was incredible playing in front of so many players,” added John-Baptiste, who is head player and team captain at The West Hants Club in Bournemouth.

“She was the better player, and had a clear mindset of what she needed to do. But I thought I played well, especially in the first set.

“I wasn’t particularly nervous. I just went in there thinking ‘this is a great experience, let’s just use it’. I was happy with my performance and my focus because I could have easily got carried away with it and not handled the pressure.

“I was in the changing rooms afterwards, and Maria Sharapova walked past me and then Victoria Azarenka was in the changing rooms with me. It was great!”