Smashing news for tennis ace Pippa

Rising star Pippa Horn, from West Harling, has landed a spot on the Lawn Tennis Association’s Team AEGON scheme as a reward for a hugely successful year, which saw her win the 18 and under national championships aged just 14.

Team AEGON contracts have been awarded to 32 elite players including British number one Elena Baltacha and a host of other top players such as Anne Keothavong, Laura Robson and James Ward.

The benefits of a Team AEGON contract go beyond simple financial support for training as players are provided with international travel assistance and access to sports science expertise, allowing them to develop and compete at the very highest level.

The fact that Pippa is one of just 11 females on the list highlights the strides that she has made in the past 12 months.

She began to make her move in the junior world rankings in May by reaching the semi-finals of the Nazmi Bari Cup in Turkey in what was only her fourth ITF event.

Her first tournament victory came in early July at the AEGON Junior International in Edinburgh, where she defeated Yuriko Miyazaki of Japan 6-3, 6-0 to double her tally of world ranking points.

At the Donnybrook International in Ireland she recorded a double success by collecting the singles and doubles titles before nearly repeating that achievement the following week at the Rushbrooke ITF.

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A tough loss to Oceane Dodin of France in the singles final was eased by a doubles win with partner Harriet Dart from Middlesex.

In August, Pippa was given a wildcard into the 18 and under national championships at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

Still four years young for the event, few could have predicted the run of results that was to follow which would see her become the youngest winner in the event’s 102-year history.

After a three-set battle with second seed Lucy Brown in round one, Pippa swept into the semi-finals where she met third seed Jessica Ren.

Despite the loss of a set, Horn reached the final to face Ren’s older sister and top seed Jennifer.

Another three-set epic ensued with Horn eventually emerging as National Champion 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

She capped a remarkable 2010 by scooping the Eastern Daily Press Active Norfolk Young Sports Personality of the Year award last month. “2010 has been really great for me and I’m really pleased with the way I’ve played,” said Pippa.

When asked about any disappointments from the year she joked “probably when One Direction got voted off the X Factor”.

Now 15, Pippa has made several changes to her programme as she aims to improve her current junior world ranking of 365.

“I’m now based at the NTC in Roehampton and I have Louis Cayer as my coach which is great because as well as having a top coach I can hit with some of the other players he works with such as (Davis Cup player) Ken Skupski.”

She has set herself the target of reaching the top 50 in the junior world rankings by the end of 2011 and hopes to feature at some of the Junior Grand Slams.

“If I can get my ranking high enough to play at Junior Wimbledon it would be pretty exciting, but I also really want to play the US Open juniors and perhaps spend a little bit of time shopping in New York.”

The former Wymondham College pupil is continuing her education on Fridays and Saturdays at a College in Cambridge where she will sit her GCSEs. Pippa possesses a level head and incredible determination and these assets coupled with her obvious talent make her one to watch in British tennis for 2011.