Olivia facing University Challenge in South Korea

Olivia Nicholls is heading for South Korea. Picture: Denise Bradley.

Olivia Nicholls is heading for South Korea. Picture: Denise Bradley. - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

The exotic surroundings and humid climate of South Korea await Norfolk women's number one Olivia Nicholls at the end of this week.

The 20-year-old former Acle High School pupil is preparing to fly to South Korea to compete in the 28th World University Games.

Nicholls is part of a Great Britain team of three men and three women who will be competing, with the Loughborough University student selected to compete in the singles.

'I've not been to South Korea before so I'm really excited,' said Nicholls, who is currently 24th in the British women's singles rankings and reached 18th earlier in the year.

'I've pretty much been working towards this since I started at university – it was one of my goals since starting at Loughborough.

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'It's held every two years and you can also play the year after you graduate as well so I will hopefully still have another chance as well (in Taiwan in 2017).'

Nicholls has just completed the second year of a sports science and management degree, which has left little time to prepare for the event, which attracts 10,000 participants from more than 150 countries.

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'We've just had our exam period,' the former East Norfolk Sixth Form College student explained. 'I've had four exams and I finished last Monday, but knowing that I was going to Korea I wanted to keep training hard, but I needed to keep studying.

'So now I can concentrate on training three or four hours a day.'

Nicholls heads for Asia full of confidence, though, after an exciting season.

The Acle Tennis Club coach won the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) women's singles title in March, without dropping a set throughout the tournament and beating reigning champion Alexandra Walker 6-2 6-1 in the quarter-finals.

That success was then followed by the opportunity to play against members of the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, as part of a Great Britain Combined University team.

'The BUCS individuals were held at Loughborough so it was nice to win on home soil and get some good results along the way,' Nicholls added. 'So that was really good and then the GB universities fixture against members of the All England Club, which included playing against (former Wimbledon and US Open doubles quarter-finalist) Ross Hutchins, so that was really good as well.

'I'm really pleased with the season. It's been good for the (Loughborough) team to finish second in the league and narrowly lose in the semi-final of the cup to Bath. And individually I've had some good tournament results including getting to the final of a British tour event in Bournemouth.'

The Norfolk county cup team member is unsure whether she will be able to continue her success at the tournament in South Korea though, adding: 'I don't really know quite what to expect. In the past there has been a very high level of competition. But equally this time it clashes with Wimbledon so I don't know if that will have any impact on the standard.

'So it's difficult to set goals and expectations, but I'll just see what the standard is like and give it my best shot.'

Do you know of a local sporting success? Contact sports reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk.

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