Tennis star Laura Robson names Newcastle girl a star of the future

Abby Kelliher, seven, crowned champion on national tennis competition by British number one Laura Robson

Seven-year-old Abby Kelliher named a tennis star of the future by British number one tennis player Laura Robson
Seven-year-old Abby Kelliher named a tennis star of the future by British number one tennis player Laura Robson

A young tennis player has been named a star of the future by British number one Laura Robson.

Abby Kelliher, seven, proved herself to be a Grand Slam champion in the making after beating over 900 children to be crowned the female winner in the final of Virgin Active’s Search for a Tennis Ace, a nationwide talent search for young British tennis talent.

The final, attended by 40 children aged between five and eight from all over the UK, was judged by Wimbledon star Laura Robson, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) head of performance tennis Simon Jones, and Virgin Active’s national racquets programme coordinator Simon Pearson.

Abby, who lives in the Woodlands Park area of Wideopen, North Tyneside, was put through her paces in a series of exercises that tested her agility, hand eye co-ordination, rallying and racquet skills and all-round athleticism.

As the winner, Abby receives a three year membership to Virgin Active for herself and her family, three years top-level coaching at the club, a racquet and clothing deal with Wilson and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get top tips from Laura Robson.

Seven-year-old Abby Kelliher
Seven-year-old Abby Kelliher

Laura said: “I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of this process to find the next tennis ace of the future, and would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Abby. She displayed some serious skills on court today and stood out from the start.

“The level of talent from the girls was particularly impressive, it was tough out there and Abby rose to the challenge.

“It’s clear she loves the game and has a real competitive spirit. I have no doubt Abby is one to watch for the future.”

Simon Jones said: “Abby demonstrated a really high skill level, and clearly has a passion for sport which is great to see. It was really inspiring to see so much talent in the room, but Abby really shone out to all the judges.”

Matt Merrick, managing director of Virgin Active, added: “I would like to congratulate Abby on her fantastic achievement. It’s exciting to think that at only seven years of age she is showing such athleticism and a focus beyond her years.

“It was great to see so many energetic and passionate youngsters on court today, the Active Aces programme is about having fun whilst engaging with the sport and our competitors embodied that fully today.

“Our mission with Active Aces is to attract children into the sport earlier and give them a skill for life, we think that Abby is going to be a great example of this.”

Search for a Tennis Ace was developed in partnership with the LTA. For further information on Active Aces and to find your nearest club, visit


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