Emily Appleton on her rise from the junior to the pro tour and advice for aspiring young tennis players
• 4 MINUTE READ
Who better to advise aspiring young tennis players on the junior game than someone who has walked the exact same path before? British tennis star Emily Appleton knows all too well what it takes to enjoy a successful junior career and transition to the professional level, competing in events across the globe.
Appleton – a former top 10 junior player and current doubles world No.135 – recently featured on the My Tennis Journey podcast, a podcast hosted by 13-year-old tennis enthusiast Stan Salmon which focuses on all things surrounding the junior level of the sport.
In this episode, Appleton spoke candidly about her experience rising from the juniors to the professional tour, with the 24-year-old dishing out some great insight to aspiring young tennis players when it comes to making the most out of their junior years.
“I think the biggest piece of advice I would give my 13-year-old self is to just not worry about anything and really just have fun, developing and being with your friends whilst playing tennis”, Appleton said when asked what advice she would give her 13-year-old self.
“When you’re 13 I don’t think anything means so much to you that you need to get stressed about it on the court. It should be a place where you’re having fun, getting better and growing as a person on and off the court. When I was 13, I found tennis a bit too stressful at times and looking back, there was absolutely no need.”
One of the most popular and enjoyable team events of the junior tennis season is the County Cup. Teams from every county across the country come together for a host of regional and national events in a bid to be crowned champions.
There are six age groups of competitions, ranking from 9U all the way up to 18U, which allows junior tennis players to battle against the top British talent. Appleton highlights her fond memories of playing in the County Cup as a junior, with the Brit continuing to incorporate the senior level of the competition into her busy schedule on the ITF and WTA tours.
“I’ve played County Cup for both the juniors and seniors for Surrey. I think I started at 12U and I played right the way up to 18U and I’m playing as much as I can with the seniors too now.
“I just love County Cup, being with my friends and playing in a team environment which you don’t get that much in tennis – it has and always will be one of the highlights of my tennis year.”
Like many young tennis players, Appleton’s junior career began alongside her dad, a former professional tennis player himself who coached the Brit in her earliest days and taught her the foundations of the sport.
“My dad coached me for the majority of my junior career, and I had a few coaches on the side and working with him, namely David Collins, James Auckland and Mel South.
“It was always an interesting dynamic with me and my dad, it’s not easy when a parent is coaching a child, and it can be quite hard to find the line between coach and being a parent. We were able to develop a special and unique bond on the court and it’s nice that I still have that person that 100% believes in me and wants me to be better as a person and as a player.
“It was also really great to have other people who could chip into my tennis as well. Having more than one person’s opinion and suggestions always helps, I don’t think too many people can affect anyone’s tennis in a negative way as long as they’re singing from the same hymn sheet.”
“I’ve always looked for my coach to have 100% undying belief in me and my tennis” Appleton added when asked what advice she has for young players looking to hire a coach.
“You need to find those coaches that truly just love the game and want to develop you and your game. When you find that person you really can develop a sound relationship and trust knowing that they want to get you as good as you can be.”
For many young tennis players, competing on the ATP or WTA tour is the pinnacle of tennis and the ultimate end goal, alongside winning titles. But whilst the life of a professional tennis player may seem glamourous, Appleton highlights that there are some significant differences to life as a junior.
“Playing professional tennis has so many highs and I count myself very lucky to be able to call myself as a professional player and it’s pretty cool to say that my job is being a pro athlete. I get to travel the world which not many people my age can do – I get to see so many different countries, places, try new foods and meet new people.
“With the highs also comes the lows and one of the biggest challenges is how often and long you’re on the road for. You have to get used to being away from home and finding comfort in uncomfortable situations.
“It can also get quite lonely, and I think that’s the main difference – juniors you’re with your friends and it can be quite a lot more sociable but with seniors you’re playing to earn a living and make a career out of it. At the end of the day, it’s what you make it and there are things you can do to help make it less lonely.”
Listen to the full episode of the My Tennis Journey podcast via the links below:
Find and book an LTA Youth course
Looking to advance your tennis skills? LTA Accredited coaches run courses for children aged 4-18 that are packed full of fun and dynamic training to ensure you're having fun while learning new skills.