Ten years ago 12 year-old Claire Vigrass, from Inworth, followed in the footsteps of father Chris, brother Ian, and sister Sarah, and took up the ancient game of Real Tennis at Prested Hall in Feering.
She was soon captivated by the game, and was helped along by assistant pro Ricardo Smith. From the very early days, there was much excitement amongst Prested members that these two might each, one day, become world champions.
Ricardo is still on the quest, and, having been at Prested most of this past decade, after a number of injury-based setbacks, he is able to rekindle his training on the international circuit. He’s only 28 and the current world champion is 44, so Ricardo still has exciting years ahead of him.
Meanwhile, Claire won her first World Championship in 2011 (and successfully defended it earlier this year). She is now the best female player in the world, ever, and she and sister Sarah are also World Doubles Champions.
Now Ricardo has been invited to work as a professional in Newport, Rhode Island, so, Prested members will be bidding him a sad and fond farewell. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and Prested is thrilled that Claire is joining the team as head professional, which has the rare luxury of having not one but two courts.
As from mid January she will be offering free introductory lessons to this wonderful game, so if you want a lesson from a World Champion, call 01376 570220.