Tennis: Versatile Hannah Watson will take it in good sport

One of the rising stars of Lothians tennis has the honour of being the first person to feature in Local Heroes Extra, although another title is unlikely to go to the head of Hannah Watson.

The grounded 16-year-old is the defending Ladies and under-18 champion at her club, St Serf's, and has in the past month become accustomed to further success by reaching eight finals from the ten competitions she has entered on the open tournament circuit around Scotland.

The East Lothian Open has proved a happy hunting ground in recent years for the Royal High pupil, who last year won the Ladies event in addition to the under-16 and under-18 gongs. The pressure to replicate such an achievement in North Berwick would always weigh heavily on a player of such ambition and high standards, but Hannah lived well with the label of "the one to beat" and retained her under-16 crown, while finishing runner-up in the Ladies, under-18 and mixed doubles events.

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Such is the summer holiday itinerary of a budding tennis player that just a week later, she was contesting four more finals 250 miles away. The North of Scotland Championship in Elgin was uncharted territory for the intrepid teenager but she soon settled into the more familiar setting of the latter stages of a regional tournament, going on to win the under-16 prize and rounding off a fortnight of intense tennis with a commendable second place in the under-18, Ladies, and Ladies Doubles sections.

"I have a better chance of getting a place in the East of Scotland team now because of my performances and results throughout the season. I played for the regional team last year at Sunderland in the County Cup, which was a great experience," said Hannah. Her appetite for the game is palpable, and her drive to improve there for all to see.

Having now started back at secondary school where she prepares to work towards her Highers, Hannah can reflect upon a summer of hard graft on the tennis court. Her all-important competitive edge, however, meant that she was almost deprived of getting her hands on a racquet at all because of an injury sustained in trying to rugby tackle a boy during a training session.

She recalls, "I had to recover quickly to take part in North Berwick after injuring my knee playing rugby at school. It was mixed contact rugby and I was getting stuck in and trying to win the ball from a boy, but I fell awkwardly and was out for a while."

As well as playing rugby and tennis, Hannah represented the school's hockey team and captained Spartans Girls football team last year.

She eschewed other sports recently, though, to channel her sporting prowess into her tennis game. "I'd love to be a professional tennis player, but I probably would have had to have been to a tennis academy by now. Andy Murray went to Spain when he was 12, but now I'm 16 I would like to go and do a tennis scholarship in America and to study physiotherapy there.

"I love tennis, because you have the option to play on your own or to rely on teamwork. There's so much variety in the game and it works on co-ordination, fitness and plenty other things.

"My dad's done a lot for me, as has my mum, and my coach Alex Harkins has also had a big influence on my game."

"I love tennis, because you have the option to play on your own or to rely on teamwork"