Sports Scholar Spotlight

Francesco Plays With The Pros!

Kent Sport Scholar and Kent and Medway Medical School (KMMS) student Francesco made history by becoming the first Kent University student to take part in a professional tennis tournament.

There are various levels of men’s professional tennis, ranging from ITF world tour events, sometimes known as Futures tournaments, all the way up to Grand Slam tennis. There are dozens of Futures tournaments across the world taking place every week, and despite their lower standing are very popular and competitive. The opportunity to win ATP points and gain access to ATP250 and ATP500 tournaments attracts the worlds best players. The tournament Francesco competed in was a Futures tournament in Egypt.

After applying for the tournament with low expectations of getting in, due to such a high demand among high quality players, Francesco found out just 5 days before the start date of his acceptance! In a shock he booked his flight for Egypt and flew out on Saturday 16 September. With the flight landing at midnight and the opening match scheduled for 11 am on the Sunday it gave him very little time to prepare.

On the Sunday morning Francesco played against a Saudi Arabian who had represented his country at the Davis Cup and won NCAA Division level 1 American College Tennis.  As expected, the match was very tough for a number of reasons: a super-good and super-fit opponent, a short turnaround with only few hours of sleep before the match and brutal 35 degrees heat! Although a few chances to win games and a break of service on multiple occasions the level of tennis was just too great and Francesco struggled to compete. After an 1hr 15 minute match Francesco’s first appearance in a professional tournament was unfortunately over.

Despite this tough loss Francesco feels that he was able to take many positives from the match and has gained a new found motivation to train even harder. “ I am proud of this achievement as I never thought I could compete in a pro event and I now look forward to grabbing more chances like this in the future and maybe get through to the first round” he remarked post-match.

Francesco also commented on the support given to him by the scholarship scheme:

“I would like to thank Harry, our strength and conditioning coach who helped me getting fitter over the summer, Luke for helping me with the mental strength, and Simon, my tennis coach for making my game improve massively since I arrived in Canterbury! Lastly thanks to Kent Sport for supporting me with the trip, hopefully a few more will come!”

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