Determined Dart is still on target

HARRIET Dart has continued her busy schedule since first gaining her ITF ranking in May and is intent on boosting her standing further as she bids to become a top flight tennis professional.

The 14-year-old first played at Cumberland Tennis Club in Alvaney Gardens after being introduced to the game by her mother Susie, the Middlesex team captain.

Harriet Dart’s talent for the game quickly became apparent and for the past two years she has boarded five days a week at the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre where she trains with the Win Tennis Academy.

Bisham Abbey, located near Marlow in Buckinghamshire, is an LTA accredited international high performance centre. Dart is one of several young players there who take part in the daily syllabus that combines a full-time tennis programme with on-site education and believes she is already starting to reap the rewards of the specialised training.

“Mentally I have improved a lot,” said Dart who, since September, has contested tournaments in Belgium, Cyprus, Malaysia and Hungary and is off to India for the ITF Juniors next month.

“Personally I think I have matured a lot quicker than I should have as I am around a lot of older people.

“When you are travelling you have got to be able to keep your fitness up as otherwise you can get really tired. My fitness levels have improved as if you are not fit enough you can’t compete.”

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Dart’s ranking has soared to 493 from her original ranking of around 1300 in May and she feels she is benefitting physically and psychologically and clearly enjoys the daily routine.

“I was 11 when I first started going there [Bisham Abbey] and I quite enjoyed it and started coming all the time two years ago,” she continued.

“I am boarding there from Monday to Friday. On Mondays I play at 7am and have school from 8.45am to 12pm, then have fitness and exercises afterwards.

“We normally do drills like six sets of forehand cross and I do fitness twice a day. Normally we do core, speed and aerobic endurance.

“Core is for strengthening your stomach muscles and we do things like sit ups,” she explained.

“For speed we do a lot of running through cones and for aerobic endurance we would do it on the treadmill or cross trainer.”

Dart is confident her hectic schedule will pay dividends and hopes to break into the top 200 next season, but her response is immediate when asked what is her ultimate goal.

“I would like to be the world No.1,” she quickly replies.