Sam Rogerson - Mawdesley's tennis star of the future
PUBLISHED: 00:16 16 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:54 20 February 2013
Forget Andy Murray, if a Mawdesley teenager has his way, centre court spectators will be chanting his name one day at Wimbledon. Emma Mayoh reports
When an 11-year-old unknown was given the chance to compete in the Mens Individual Open tournament at Mawdesley Tennis Club, it started as a light-hearted affair.
There was a lot of encouragement for the novice member initally. But then things got quite serious. After much huffing and puffing and a fair degree of frustration he had thrashed every last player, including his own coach.
And what really hurt his string of defeated opponents was the realisation that Sam had first picked up a tennis racquet just a few months earlier.
This early achievement earned him an immediate place on the adult team a rare if not unique occurrence. Now 17, he plays as the clubs number one and he has helped them into the Southport and District Division One.
Sam said: I never felt intimidated at the Mawdesley tournament and I knew I could win it. I enjoyed playing against older people because I liked the challenge. Ive been told that as I started to win, some players started making excuses. But I was moved up to the first team straight away.
So far, I have just loved the challenges that tennis has given me. I like getting better and improving all the time. Its fantastic.
It was boredom during Christmas in 2005 that prompted Sam and older brother Ben to go and have a knock at their local club. But since then the teenager has been hooked. The achievements have come thick and fast and he is determined to become a successful professional.
He has already played for several local teams and represents the Lancashire county team, currently one of the best performing in the country, and is ranked second in the county.
As well as winning a raft of awards since he first started playing, including beating other youngsters who have been competing for many more years, he has also got the backing of former Wimbledon doubles champion and singles finalist Angela Buxton who spied talent in the Mawdesley teenager. She has taken him on two specialist training camps to America, where last year he met his idol, Andy Murray.
Sam, who trains four days at week at Bolton Arena where he is also currently doing an advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence, said: Meeting Andy Murray was incredible.
I was the only young one who got to do it because he knew Angela and it was a proud moment. If I can be as good as him then I will be very happy.
What is even more impressive is that Sam has achieved all his while juggling his GCSEs at Bishop Rawstorne C of E academy in Croston.
Despite having to fit his work in around his training schedule and doing some over the internet when he was in America, he still gained eight A and three B grades. He has now deferred his place at Runshaw College for a year to concentrate on his tennis. And he has big plans.
As well as going to the Eric Kantor Academy in Florida to try for a place in the Dunlop Orange Bowl tournament, one of the most prestigious international junior tournaments, he also wants to get an International Tennis Federation ranking and to qualify and compete in the UK Mens National Tour. The latter would mean even more training and travel to dozens of tournaments around the country. But his ultimate dream is to play at Wimbledon.
Playing at a competition like that is something I have wanted ever since I started, he said. The pressure is so great on the British players to succeed but I would like to say that one day I could win.
Tennis is the thing I love and although I also want to compete internationally, Wimbledon is the ultimate for me.
For some, all these achievements and ambitions might lead to bragging. But not with Sam, who remains level-headed. That is partly down to his determination and drive but its probably also a result of the unswerving support of his parents, Stephen and Pam.
They have spent their time raising funds and taking their son to the many competitions, training sessions and camps. The costs add up and then theres the charges for having his racquet strung, clothing and other equipment.
Local companies, organisations and individuals have helped in the past but most of the thousands needed every year to help Sam make his dream become a reality is raised by his parents.
Stephen said: The time and financial commitment is considerable and it gets more difficult the further Sam progresses. We have already had a lot of help which we are very grateful for but any financial support or sponsorship from local businesses and organisations would be a massive help.
We are so proud of Sam. He seems to have this calm attitude that rattles his opponents and I think he will do well.
He is a very determined young man and Im glad that I get to take him to these things. Being a taxi driver is in the job description when youre a dad.
The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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