The tennis tour to Portugal went off as sweetly as a Raducanu serve in the US Open of 2021. The merry group of 46 pupils from Year 10 to Lower Sixth and five members of staff spent four glorious days playing Tennis and Padel beneath the burning Portuguese sun.
There was a fun, purposeful atmosphere throughout the trip with a pleasing winning blend of intense training and relaxation punctuating each day. The training sessions were impeccably organised and were high-tempo from the get-go.
Within seconds of the first session starting the courts were a blur of Epsom shirts and feverish activity. The students’ ability level was quickly and accurately assessed and students almost immediately found themselves engaged in drills designed to stretch them and help them improve. Ages and genders were intermingled to ensure everyone found the level that was just right for them – and this created a lovely atmosphere; a perfect example of successful co-education.
On the afternoon of the third day, the organisers arranged for a series of competitions against other schools who were staying at the resort: The Leys School, Bradfield, Leicester Grammar School and Watford Grammar School for boys.
Epsom pupils excelled. Amir Farah and Nihal Patel collected the plate for third place in the top tier, while in the cup for the top tier Epsom made it a clean sweep with Luca Rushton and Dejan Filipas taking first place, Daniel Singer and Sophie Stephens securing second while third place was shared by the pairings of Kintaro Gledstone and Hector Buzzacott, and Lorenzo Lentini and Aran Pramoj.
In the second tier, Ella Finegan and Rhys Battrick won the Consultation Draw with twins Maddie and Blake Pearce taking first place and Zac Woolven and Felix Gerlach taking second. In short, there were triumphs all round.
On the last day, the coaches gave awards to two students who had particularly impressed them over the four-day course. Sophie Stephens was deservedly named Player of the Tour. Sophie’s accuracy, poise and power were indeed most impressive and this promises much for the tennis season ahead. Meanwhile, the top trainer was Stefano Di Rico who, despite being troubled by a back injury, gave nothing less than 100% throughout.
Away from the courts, the students still found time to eat the heartiest of breakfasts (truly a daily feast fit for Kings and Queens) lounge by the pool, visit the local beach, sample ice-creams, watch football and partake in poetic creations.
The high-quality coaches were delighted by the ambition and drive of the Epsom pupils and declared them to be one of the best groups they’d ever had.
All in all, the trip was truly a multi-educational endeavour, thoroughly enjoyed by all.