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Real Tennis US Open


Claire Vigrass

Claire Vigrass has taken over Charlotte Cornwallis’ mantle as the dominant force in the ladies’ game and has taken it to a new level; hitting the ball harder than any other lady, she has all the shots, serves well, volleys and retrieves well and cuts the ball in a much more dramatic way. In 2011 she became the youngest ever World Champion at the age of 19, winning the singles and also the doubles with her sister Sarah. Claire has won the British Open singles 3 times (2010, 2011 and 2012) and the doubles twice (2010 and 2012) and both the French and Australian Open singles and doubles in 2010 and 2011. In 2010 the Tennis and Rackets Association awarded Claire the Baerlein Cup for the best tennis performance by an amateur and she is the first lady to be selected for the Van Alen Cup team. Claire’s best handicap to date is an amazing 7 and she has the ability and determination to improve on that. She turned professional in 2011, as a touring professional. She managed all of this top class tennis despite breaking her ankle on a Welsh mountain in late 2010!

PictureClaire came to the game at the age of 11 at Prested Hall where she had her first lesson from Ivan Ronaldson, and found her love of the game. Claire then had the majority of her coaching from Ricardo Smith as she began to see her potential in the junior and ladies game. Claire also benefited from an LRTA bursary. She won multiple British Junior Girls Championships, which aided her selection into the British Junior Squad and she was given a place in the British Academy. During 2009-11, Claire had a tennis scholarship at the MCC, where she benefited from immense help from the MCC team, particularly Adam Phillips. Her tennis progressed significantly during that year and, continues to improve. Claire turned professional in April last year and with her new status intends to travel the world playing professional tournaments. She has spent the last 12 months in Australia training at The Royal Melbourne Tennis Club. She is the current World Champion, Singles and (with her sister, Sarah) Doubles, as well as being the holder of the British Open Singles and (again with Sarah) Doubles, Tasmanian and Victorian Open Doubles (mens) and the Australian, French, and US Open (Singles and Doubles).

PictureKaren Hird

Karen is currently on a gap year from university, and is the young tennis amateur at MCC, having graduated in Economics from Cambridge University in 2010 and completed the Graduate Diploma in Law last year. She started playing real tennis at the age of 8, winning the British Junior Girls' Age Group Championships 5 times. However, badminton was her main sport until she was 17, competing as a junior international for six years and winning European gold and bronze medals. Karen won the World Championship Doubles (with Charlotte Cornwallis) in 2009, and reached the Singles finals in both 2009 and 2011. She won her first Open Singles title at the 2009/10 French Open, and has won a number of Open Doubles titles, including the British Open Doubles in 2011. Karen played numerous sports at university level, gaining Full Blues in Real Tennis, Badminton and Squash, a Half Blue in Eton Fives and representing the University at Cricket. She still plays Fives, winning the Winchester Fives Nationals and reaching the final of the Eton Fives Nationals (to be played in April) this season.

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