Norfolk trio feel the benefit of States experience

A trio of Norfolk tennis players who attend university in the USA will be heading home for the summer after a busy spring season of competition.

Scholarship athletes Sam Parfitt, Samantha Noble and Emma Brook ended the season at their respective conference tournaments, with all three missing out on a coveted spot at the NCAA National Championships.

Noble, a third year student at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, picked up a pair of wins in the team's opening round victory over St Joseph's at the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships. The Dukes' run however, would be halted by third seed St Louis in the quarter finals.

Competing at first pair, Noble's intelligence on the doubles court came to the fore as she and partner Megan O'Sullivan won 8-4 to hand the Dukes the doubles point against St Joseph's.

Noble added a 6-2, 6-0 win at second singles and her team mates followed suit to give Duquesne a 4-0 victory.

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The title dreams were to end in the quarter-finals as St Louis proved too strong and, despite another brilliant doubles effort from Noble and O'Sullivan, St Louis cruised into the semis as 4-1 winners.

Sam Parfitt's UT-Chattanooga side had a vastly improved season on recent years, finishing with an 8-15 record after falling to top-seeded Elon University in the quarter-finals of the Southern Conference.

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Parfitt competed predominantly at fourth singles and first doubles for UTC and was given the chance to represent them at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, however his season was blighted by injury and he eventually required wrist surgery.

Parfitt said: 'Although I'm having a terrific time in the states, my injury has been incredibly frustrating. I shall be hitting gently again this week ahead of some German club league matches.'

As well as tennis, Parfitt has received several academic honours including a place on the Dean's list for each semester.

Emma Brook has finished her second year at Drexel University in Philadelphia where she is studying Business Administration.

Brook's Drexel Dragons finished with eight wins and eight losses in an up and down season that ended at the hands of William and Mary University in the opening round of the Colonial Athletic Conference Championships.

A member of the Norfolk ladies side that achieved promotion in the summer, Brook has slotted in to the Dragon's line up at fourth singles and has regularly produced gritty performances on the big occasions.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association provides an excellent platform for student athletes to continue their education whilst competing at a high level.

The system has produced a number of top sportsmen and women who currently compete on the world stage including American John Isner, who took reigning French Open champion Rafael Nadal to five sets last week, and Luke Donald, who became the number one ranked golfer in the world on Sunday.

While American University fees are generally much higher than the UK, sports and academic scholarships make studying in the USA a real option for athletes who wish to train like a professional, but are perhaps not physically ready to take their sport on as a career.

• Richard Bloomfield is over the first qualifying hurdle at the $64,000 Challenger in Nottingham this week after defeating compatriot Sean Thornley 7-5, 6-1.

In a fiercely competitive field ahead of next week's AEGON Championships at Queen's Club, Bloomfield faces world number 192 Ilja Bozoljac of Serbia in qualifying round two on the grass courts at the City of Nottingham Tennis Centre.

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