Catching up with the FC**tennis academy – player focus: Sophya Devas

Sophya, aged 9, has had an unbelievable summer in terms of her results. She won four successive under 10 grade 3 tournaments including the Dukes Meadows Championships back in July.

Sophya is an extremely talented young tennis player, with great natural ability and a strong desire to always improve her game.

She started playing tennis at the age of 5 and a year later was beginning to make a serious impression with the type of shots she was demonstrating on court. When she reached the age of 7 her Mother Tatiana decided she needed to be placed in an environment where her tennis could flourish.

Tatiana Devas told us: “Initially we didn’t think too seriously about playing at a proper place as she was still young and we’re happy at our local club.

Since the age of 7 Sophya started to produce excellent results while playing tournaments and achieved a lot of victories at regional level.

Many people suggested that Sophya needed to start training more seriously and work closely with high Performance coaches at a place with indoor facilities.”

The search for the right tennis centre initially caused Sophya and her Mum a few problems and also halted her development. She was continuously moving clubs as Tatiana did not feel other centres were providing her with the coaching she needed.

Sophya would often end up playing with and against Ranah Stoiber, also of FC**tennis and this is how she came across Dukes Meadows. Tatiana was very impressed with Ranah’s style of play and approached her Father Frank about where she trained.

Sophya was eventually invited for a trial in November 2014 and from that point on has never looked back.

Tatiana explained: “Sophya came for a trial in November 2014, which included several assessments and we soon realised we had finally found our home. When Sophya joined Dukes Meadows her technique was not at the level of players’ she competed against. But she was hungry to play, develop and improve! She started having lessons with the Director of Tennis James Lenton. I believe he saw Sophya’s natural ability and willingness to work hard so decided to help a player who was extremely dedicated to tennis.”

Thriving under a new regime at Dukes Meadows, Sophya regained her confidence and started winning and getting to finals of many tournaments at Regional and National level.

Sophya told us: I like Dukes Meadows because I have a very good coach in James and I feel the staff are really nice and respectful to me. As well as my tennis there are other really great things to do here like indoor skiing or playing table tennis – I find it really fun here!

Her favourite players on the tour are Roger Federer, Simona Halep and Serena Williams. To further improve her game she needs to work on her defence.

Our Tennis Director, James Lenton believes Sophya has a big future in the game:

“She represents the sort of characters that prosper at Dukes Meadows. She has an extreme amount of natural talent but even more importantly she has shown such a dedication to improve her tennis. It’s very rewarding when you work with players like that and there are a couple of girls in that age group like Ranah Stoiber and Athena Radicopolous who have shown a determination that will get them far in their tennis careers.

As the Director of Tennis at Dukes Meadows I can only be encouraged and excited about the tennis I see happening around me. Sophya is part of a crop of players that have been produced and developed at Dukes Meadows from a young age and are now up there as some of the best players in the country. The next step will be competing internationally and she can take inspiration from people like Benjamin Heynold and Ellis Short (both in our academy) who were at her stage three years ago and now making finals of U14 Tennis Europe competitions.

The success that Sophya has achieved in her summer tournaments (winner at the under 10 grade 3: Dukes Meadows Championships, Gerrards Cross Junior Open, Aneel Sports Tournament and Middlesex Championships) reflect the hard work she’s shown in her training sessions at Dukes Meadows.”

If you are interested in having a trial to join FC**tennis then please send us an email to office@dukesmeadows.com.