Game, set and match for teenage tennis ace James Ashworth at Lancashire Tennis Championships
It was game, set and match for Burnley’s teenage tennis star James Ashworth at the 2021 Lancashire Tennis Championships.
The 16-year-old, who recently took his GCSEs, aced his latest test as he won the Under 18s category of the county competition.
After a bye in the first round at the Bolton Arena, the former Stoneyhurst College pupil, who has represented Burnley in the National Club League, advanced without losing a set in his second round tie against Ashley Hunter.
He went on to win his quarter-final against Alexander Fook-Knowles 6-2, 6-1 to set up a semi-final against Will Jepson – son of former Clarets striker Ronnie.
“He’s got everything going for him,” said mum, Natalie. “Hopefully he can go on to earn a scholarship in America or live out his dream of playing professional tennis.”
The youngster, who is studying A-Levels in mathematics, chemistry and biology, has recently joined the Bolton Arena Tennis Academy where he’ll work alongside coach Simone Marcantonio.
The former Worsthorne Primary School pupil, who went on to study at Shuttleworth College, also works closely with full-time tennis coach Imran Aswat, who has been with the ParalympicsGB squad in Tokyo.
And the extra hours have clearly paid off. He beat Jepson 6-4, 6-0 to reach the final, where he overcame Adam Singleton in a contest that lasted almost three hours.
James won a first set tie-break 7-4. Singleton edged the second set 7-5 before Burnley fan James won the match tie-break 13-11.
“His dream is to play in all the big Grand Slam tournaments,” added Natalie. “We are aware that it’s going to be difficult to get there, but he wants to do them all. Next year we’re hoping that he can qualify for Junior Wimbledon.”
James will now be playing up to 20 hours of tennis a week while competing in around 30 tournaments a year, 10 of which will likely be on the international stage.
He’ll be competing in LTA tournaments and ITF international tennis federation tournaments abroad to help him achieve a junior world ranking.
The ultimate aim is to build up his Universal Tennis Rating, designed to produce an objective, consistent, and accurate index of players’ skill.
“He’s won tournaments before, but he’s never been a Lancashire champion,” finished Natalie. “The plan now is to increase his UTR ranking so he can build towards getting a scholarship at an American university. That way he’ll be able to play tennis while studying towards a degree.”