Elland deaf tennis star Phoebe Suthers intends to prove that she’s not afraid of a challenge as she prepares to take on both senior and junior players at this year’s European Deaf Championships.
The Brooksbank School pupil, 13, says she’s ready for anything and has been growing in confidence since a breakthrough 2015.
It isn’t the first time Suthers has faced older players, as the Huddersfield Lawn Tennis and Squash Club member reached the last 16 of the inaugural World Deaf Championships in Nottingham last year, while she also won bronze in the girls’ singles.
And with the 2016 European Championships taking place in Portoroz, Slovenia, from June 4-11, Suthers intends to bag herself junior gold as well as some noticeable senior scalps.
“I’ve got the Europeans in June in Slovenia where I’m entering the junior and the senior events,” she said.
“I reckon I’ve got a chance in the juniors. It is harder playing against the seniors because they are usually a lot older than me but it’s good for me to challenge myself.
“To prepare, I’ve just been training a lot and entering as many competitions as I can, and I’ve actually won a few.
“I’m a competitive person, I always like to win and I’m always looking to improve so playing in these tournaments is perfect for me.”
Suthers was speaking at the Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport workshop at the Loughborough University campus, where more than 20 of the country’s brightest athletes were in attendance.
They were offered education seminars on issues such as nutrition, time management and interview techniques, and given mentoring by former Olympic cyclist Bryan Steel, ex-England rugby union player David Flatman, and London 2012 Olympian Adam Gemili.
And Gemili believes he saw plenty of potential in the likes of Suthers and her fellow Academy of Sport athletes.
Gemili said: “I feel really privileged to be here speaking to these guys, trying to inspire them by sharing my story, and hopefully I can help them progress to the next level.
“The Academy of Sport does such great things for these young athletes. Jade Jones is the best example – she was on this programme and went on to win Olympic gold at London 2012.”
Phoebe Suthers attended the Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport workshop, mentored by Land Rover Ambassador David Flatman and Sportsaid Patron Bryan Steel. For more information visit sportsaid.org.uk.