Melanie South - Great Britain Tennis Player

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Thanks to the LTA

Thanks to SportsAid

Thanks to Fred Perry

Thanks to Wilson Sporting Goods

Thanks to Luxilon Tennis Strings

Thanks to Karakal Tennis Grips

Thanks to OCS

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Wimbledon Club News - 1/07/2002

Ask the Parents

What does it take to play on the tennis circuit?

Cost of the kit
Clothing - We are most grateful to Fred Perry for their sponsorship of Melanie’s outfits. The quality is superb. Tennis outfits have to be hardwearing with the amount of wearing, washing and crushing in suitcases, etc. The outfits always look great, the colours have never run, no buttons have flown off and no zips have stuck and nothing at all has shrunk. Thanks Fred Perry.

Racquets - No sponsorship to date.
Update: Wilson’s have just awarded a contract to Melanie for her racquets and they arrived on Christmas Eve just as she was going to compete in Sweden day after Boxing Day. Great timing and great racquets. Melanie won the tournament. Thanks Wilson’s. (December 2002)

Strings - Melanie has such power that her racquets have to be restrung frequently and always before she plays matches. Her Father has bought a stringing machine so that he can restring them himself and keep the costs down. No sponsorship so far for strings.

Tennis shoes - These cost over £60 a pair and only last a couple of months. Unfortunately no sponsorship so far.
Running shoes - These cost over £100 per pair and last three/four months. Unfortunately no sponsorship so far.
Tennis balls and basket - £90 of balls will fill the basket twice. Unfortunately no sponsorship so far.

Laundry - The washing machine/tumble dryer are always on when Melanie is home as she will wear three or four outfits a day plus towels for training and fitness sessions.

The training
Training - three to five hours a day plus fitness which Melanie fits around school lessons, plus physio and sports massages.
Melanie trains at the LTA South East Regional Academy at Sutton which is funded by the LTA.
Update: Melanie trains at the The Tennis Academy London UK at Sutton and receives direct funding from the LTA. (September 2002)

Melanie has the support of her school and she has been allowed to leave school when no lessons were scheduled for her. One of the reasons Melanie’s father retired early was so Melanie could travel to school, then to training, then back to school and then back to training all in the same day! Homework and study has been done in airport waiting rooms, during flights, at the hotel and at the tennis centre between matches. A school exam paper was even completed while in Slovenia. Thanks Nonsuch.

Melanie’s commitment is 100 per cent both for her tennis and academic work. She has earned her senior world ranking, played Wimbledon and passed all her GCSE’s over the last few months. She even took her GCSE examination at 9am one day and then played her qualifying Wimbledon match in the afternoon.

More costs
Tournaments, travel, hotels, unless an official LTA trip, are the responsibility of the parents. The $10,000 ITF event in Bath cost £300+ in accommodation, petrol and food even staying cheaply on site at the university. The 18u Nationals in Nottingham where Melanie reached the final, cost more than £500 in hotel accommodation, petrol and food.

Meanwhile, for the trip to Cork in Ireland for Melanie to represent England in the Four Nations tournament for the LTA, we only had to get her to and from the airport and give her some spending money to cover incidentals and racquet restringing. All other expenses were paid by the LTA. (Melanie won all her singles matches v Scotland, Wales and Ireland).
Parents are the organiser, chauffeur, chaperone and payer.

Funding has been sought via many letters and profiles written but companies unfortunately do not sponsor the individual any more. We are grateful to the London Borough of Kingston, SportsAid, Wimbledon Club and PWP in Wimbledon for their support.
Update: Most grateful to OCS for their support. (January 2003)

The whole family is totally committed to supporting Melanie in her chosen career. The last time that we estimated the total cost of Melanie’s tennis (not taking into account the loss of earnings through her father taking early retirement to give Melanie his full support) it was between £25,000 and £30,000. This has resulted in having to remortgage the house twice so far.

Tennis involves many hours of filling in forms, checking entry deadlines, booking hotels, waiting around at tennis clubs, hundreds of miles driving in the car up and down the country, many telephone calls, booking courts, booking appointments, etc, etc.

Melanie has made many good friends both at home and abroad. She first went abroad without her family at the age of only 10 to represent Great Britain in France. The experience of travel is an education in itself and one that has made her very self sufficient and self assured. Meeting new people, trying a new language, using a new currency, trying new foods, taking charge of yourself to be ready and on time, are all wonderful life experiences. Melanie loves her sport and her commitment to her training and fitness regime is no less than 100%. That is what makes all the sacrifices worthwhile and why we as a family give her our full support to become a professional tennis player.

by Sheila South

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