Rising star Pippa shows why she's top

Norfolk's Pippa Horn has just attained national No. 1 status in the 12/u age group, having won the Ariel indoor tournament in Bath in December.

Norfolk's Pippa Horn has just attained national No. 1 status in the 12/u age group, having won the Ariel indoor tournament in Bath in December.

The honour is a fitting recognition for all Pippa's hard work and professionalism and equally for that of Pippa's coach at Hills Road, Cambridge, Sue Rich.

To cap a memorable spell over New Year, the West Harling youngster was selected with one other British girl for the first LTA official trip of 2007 to compete in the European Junior Tour event in Paris from January 2-6.

Seeded No. 8, Pippa won her first five matches, fighting all the way through the 64 draw to the final without losing a set. There she faced the No. 1 seed Irina Bara, from Romania. Unfortunately, Pippa couldn't quite prevail over a bigger and more experienced opponent, and eventually lost a match that saw every game bar one go to deuce.

Pippa is only the second Briton in the tournament's 18-year history to appear in the final at Boulogne-Billancourt.

To do so well in a European Junior Tour Event that boasts such previous winners as Justine Henin in 1994 and Amelie Mauresmo in 1990 is a fine achievement indeed.

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It is ironic that this should have happened just as Sue Rich's latest book 'The Tennis Handbook - A complete guide to the modern game' was published in America and here in the UK.

So the first week of 2007 has proved to be quite a memorable one for Pippa. It remains to be seen whether this early success can be maintained in what we all hope will be an injury-free year of achievement at the highest level, both nationally and internationally.

County peer, Megan Grainger has been working hard on her game, with visible improvements.

She qualified for the Leeds 12/u Grand Prix main draw where she competed with the top 16 in country. Despite holding match point and set point in two of her matches, she lost all four and finished 16th.

So the target was to qualify for the Bath main draw, which she did. She won her first match and finished eighth overall. This has significantly improved her national ranking to No. 16.

Other notable ranking achievements are 12/u: Krystal Bishop 34th; 14/u: Juliet Broster 42nd, Steffi Burt 63rd; Olivia Nicholls 97th; Harry Weeds 79th; 16/u: Jessica Harry 67th; Emma Brook 81st; Kristopher Jenkins 51st; 18/u: Sam Noble 58th; Tom Lamming 35th; Kris Jenkins 89th; Sam Parfitt 95th; Jonathan Wynne 103rd.

Steffi Burt travelled with Amy Partridge to Hull for a 14/u Grand Prix Qualifier. Steffi played three girls from the North of England ranked between 30th and 50th in the country, who all proved too strong on the day.

Her best performance was a narrow loss in the third set against a girl ranked 36th, while Chloe Murphy found Steffi's power game disconcerting, but prevailed in the end 6-3, 6-2. Amy played well too but her opposition, which included Roisin Mullins, ranked 20th, were also too much of a handful, although she managed to win several games.

The Norfolk Racquets and Health Club hosted two Grade 4 ranking tournaments during the Christmas holidays and a 14/u girls Ariel indoor tournament last weekend.

The 18/u boys' event was won by Dominic Hemy (Suffolk) over Jonathan Wynne (Thorpe St Andrew) and the girls' event was won by Perri Daniels (Suffolk) over Jessica Harris (Yelverton).

In the 16/u tournament, Stevie Tubb (Taverham) took the title with a walkover from Kris Jenkins (King's Lynn) who was ill. Emma Brook (Wroxham) beat Charlotte Groves (Norwich) in the girls' final.

In the 14/u Ariel tournament, top seed Burt was unlucky to lose in the final to the No. 2 seed, Sophie Watts from Cambridgeshire. Amy Partridge (Cringleford) was third and Holly Fleming (South Lopham) fourth.

The Norfolk Health and Racquets Club have announced the appointment of Sam Howlett to their team. He will work alongside Stuart Silvester and Neil Plaskett to become the third full-time coach. Sam returns from Greece where he was tennis manager at a Mark Warner Holiday resort.

An LTA qualified and licensed coach who is currently working on his performance coach award, he has over eight years full time coaching experience with all levels and ages of players from pre-school to adult.

Sam can be contact at the club on 01603 309465.

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