Before the start of the Summer Term, nine girls from the Fifth and Lower Sixth Forms were invited to attend the first ever tennis preseason residential camp at Downside. The standard of commitment and dedication to develop both their tactical and physical fundamentals of the game was outstanding.

The residential began with a visit from Father James in the School Theatre, who referenced a letter sent from Pope Francis titled ‘Giving the Best of Yourself’. Within the letter, Francis mentioned that ‘Sport is a formative vehicle’, how fitting for a weekend where the girls consistently demonstrated the values of humility, generosity and cheerfulness. The theme for the residential was ‘Wildcat Spirt’ which was inspired by the film High School Musical. Wildcat Spirit is a movement that never settles and will keep on pushing even when we have given our all. To enhance the Wildcat Spirt, Coach Bolton from High School Musical sent us a message:


The first day on court was blessed with a full day of sunshine. The girls committed four hours on court to developing their fundamentals including serving and volleying as well as some tactical elements of the doubles game. For the evening team building session, we made the most of the spring sunshine and stayed outside by the Wansbury Courts. Each team member was allocated a variety of powder paint. After a discussion, we allocated each colour to one of our perceived limitations in sport and opportunities. After each person had a collection of colours, the colour war began!

The girls returned to the courts the next day for another day of tennis in the sunshine. We spent more time looking at specific tactics in more detail to ensure they were prepared for the season as well as they could be. The standard of play and dedication during the weekend was constantly brilliant and they should be proud of the way they represented themselves and the School.

Reflecting on the weekend, I am reminded by the words that our Tennis Captain, Maria Dolman (Lower Sixth) shared with the team during our introduction: “We want to earn our right to build a legacy for tennis at Downside”. The girls have a blank canvas this term and we are building the foundations together. I am excited to see the results of this passion for tennis and successful preseason filter through to our junior teams throughout the season.

Conor O’Rourke
Head of Tennis Development

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