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Emma Raducanu and Ben Gusic-Wan are named national under-18 players of the year at the LTA awards

Kent tennis was well represented at the LTA National Awards.

The LTA Performance Tennis under-18 awards for both girl and boy player-of-the-year went to youngsters from the county.

Simon Grieve and Benjamin Gusic-Wan from Canterbury Tennis Club were recognised at the national awards (39795061)
Simon Grieve and Benjamin Gusic-Wan from Canterbury Tennis Club were recognised at the national awards (39795061)

The national awards for star performers were announced at the LTA’s virtual ceremony and they went to Emma Raducanu and Ben Gusic-Wan.

There were runner-up awards to for St. Peters Primary School (Aylesford), in the education section, and performance coach Simon Grieve from Canterbury Tennis Club.

The Sadie Bristow Foundation Competition was also shortlisted for an award while Kent County life vice-president, North Kent LTA president and chairman of Catford Wanderers LTC Denis Costelloe was awarded the LTA Meritorious Service Award.

Kent LTA Kent said they were very proud to have two national winners in the performance tennis category and offered their congratulations to both Emma and Ben.

It’s the second year running that Emma, from Bromley, has won the under-18 performance title, receiving the award for moving through the WTA rankings from 627-374 in 2019 to a career high of 333.

An impressive year saw her win her first 25k title in India. She also won the first post-lockdown LTA British Tour women’s title at the National Tennis Centre last month.

Ben, who plays at Canterbury Tennis Club and is coached by Grieve, is the youngest winner to date and claimed the award after winning the prestigious Super Auray event in France and followed it up with a huge achievement in winning the Florida based Orange Bowl - two of the biggest events worldwide for his 12 and under age group.

Emma Raducanu was named under-18 girl of the year at the national LTA awards (39795253)
Emma Raducanu was named under-18 girl of the year at the national LTA awards (39795253)

The LTA trip to America was Ben’s highlight of the year and he became the first British Boy since Andy Murray in 1999 to win.

David Cup captain Leon Smith presented the awards during the ceremony which was streamed live. The national awards follow on from county and regional recognition and come from over 2,000 nominations.

Performance coach runner-up Grieve was praised for the outstanding work he has done, in particular in developing and fostering the talent of the country’s top 12-year-old Gusic-Wan.

The coach shared his runner-up spot with Justin Sherring, current coach of Joe Salisbury who had a fantastic 2019 and is world no.7 on the ATP Doubles Ranking. The winner was David Felgate, former long-time coach to Tim Henman and current coach to Dan Evans, whose career is at an all-time high with an ATP Singles Ranking of 28.

Grieve’s role at Canterbury is to work with children of all ages, directing a programme at Polo Farm that offers tennis lessons to players of all levels from beginner and upwards. He joined the club in 2007 and, under his leadership, the junior programme has grown from teaching 25 children to now catering for 300.

Of those 300 children, 25 are performance players, who commit to an intensive on-court training and off-court strength and conditioning programme, that aims to give them the resources to maximise their full potential.

Alexander de Sousa and Tiegan Aitken, both 18, Grieve’s first pupils at Canterbury, and both former Kent County Junior Champions and Kent Men’s and Ladies County Cup team players, have earned scholarships at American universities and will be leaving Canterbury to play US collegiate tennis this winter.

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