Sofia Segui Edmundson is still a few weeks short of celebrating her tenth birthday, but she has already won over 20 tennis tournaments, is the current Balearic Under-10 champion and recently qualified to represent Spain at the prestigious World Under-10 Smirka Bowl Championship in Croatia this coming June.
If you went to watch the WTA tournament in Santa Ponsa last year, you may remember her. She played and was awarded the Player of the Day trophy.
Sofia was born in Palma, but her father Paul is from Newcastle and her mother from London. It was her Norwegian grandfather, "Kenny" Edmundson, who inspired her to start playing tennis at the age of four. And there could be more to come from the Edmundsons. Sister Lucy, nearly a year younger, is also a budding tennis player and often plays doubles with Sofia on the junior circuit.
Sofia has already been spotted by global sports agency Octagon which has asked for a video and biography to be sent to them in the United States. Octagon tennis clients have spent a combined total of 692 weeks at the number one ranking and have amassed over 376 Grand Slam titles between them. Viewed as a pioneer in the sport, Octagon reigns as champion in the world of professional tennis.
In the meantime, Sofia, who now has her official pin to play in European tournaments, has to keep training, while the costs of breaking into the European circuit and testing herself against new opponents begin to start mounting up. Father Paul, who once played roller hockey for Great Britain as well as tennis at the Tennis Mallorca club, where Sofia has been a member since the age of four, is doing all he can to try and raise funds and attract sponsors. He is being helped in this by many of the members.
Her victory in Cordoba won her a clothing deal with Wilson and she has Genesis sponsoring her strings, but with more tournaments on the mainland and elsewhere in Europe on the cards, costs of travel, accommodation, racquets etc. all have to be covered if Sofia is to realise her dream - winning Wimbledon.
Sadly, though, it would be for Spain. "I know my parents are English but I was born in Majorca, have Spanish citizenship and feel Spanish. I remember watching my grandfather playing tennis, he loved his tennis and one day I picked up a racquet and that was that, I was hooked." .
Paul admits he has given her a gentle nudge along the way but leaves everything up to her coach Sam, who represented Great Britain in the Davis Cup, and the rest of her coaching team.
And there is no shortage of dedication on Sofia’s behalf. She watches her diet and trains every week day in Paguera between 7.30am and 8.15am on her fitness and then at the tennis club for a few hours in the afternoons, then it’s time to get her homework done.
Paul said that the school his two daughters attend, Cas Saboners in Magalluf, is extremely supportive and that she is a bit of a hero there. "Lots of other girls and boys have started plying tennis since they’ve seen what I’ve achieved," Sofia says.
Her idol is the current Spanish number one women’s player Garbine Muguruza, whom she met in Santa Ponsa last year. She would also love to meet Rafa Nadal, whose coach Toni Nadal, presented her with her trophy at the tournament last year. And she has something in common with Nadal.
"I play right handed but I train left handed. It helps me improve my coordination and ability to react quicker." Nadal is right handed but plays with his left. "My favourite shot is my forehand but I’ve also got a strong serve and I love to get up to the net and volley."
Paul agrees that this is very unusual for a clay court player. "Her ability to volley has caught the eyes of quite a few people on the circuit."
"Obviously, we are not too hard when it comes to the physical training. But we do need to build up her strength, now that she is playing in Under-12 categories as well. The difference in strength is quite considerable, so for Sofia to compete in the higher categories, she needs to be strong. We don’t want to overdo it, we don’t want any early injury scares."
Playing in the worlds in Croatia is going to be the start of a whole new chapter. It is one of three of the most important tournaments in the world for juniors and has been won by the likes of Roger Federer in the past.
"Sponsors and coaches send their best scouts, these are tournaments where stars of the future are discovered, so there’s is a lot riding on Croatia," said Paul, who seems more nervous about the prospect than the cool-headed Sofia who has her feet firmly planted on the ground - or rather the clay court.
And if you see the Tiger prowling around a tennis court, that is because her coach once asked her what kind of animal she would like be and she said a tiger because of the way it attacks. And that is the attitude she takes onto the tennis court with her when she is playing.
If anyone would like to help Sofia fulfil her dreams, please contribute to her crowdfunding page - www.pledgesports.org/projects/tennis-mallorca-champion - or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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