Highbury girl nets two medals on top-level debut at Tennis Foundation tournament in Leeds

Lily Mills

Lily Mills - Credit: Archant

Highbury teenager Lily Mills claimed two medals in her first appearance at the top level of the Tennis Foundation’s nationwide competition for players with learning disabilities.

The 14-year-old, who lives in Whistler Street and has a rare genetic disorder called galactosaemia, was elevated to the competition’s first division following her successful debut in November.

Despite facing opponents who were mostly older than her in the tournament at Carnegie Sports Centre, Leeds, Lily quickly adapted to the higher standard.

She returned home with a bronze medal in the singles competition, as well as gold in the doubles – and there was further positive news for the teenager, who trains regularly at Islington Tennis Centre.

Lily has been awarded funding by Sport Islington for the coming year, which will provide a significant boost to her hopes of progressing in the sport.

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Her mother, Tallulah Bayley, said: “The award will make a big difference to us. Travelling costs are expensive – with learning disability events they don’t take place in London, they’re all over the country.

“The first one Lily went to was in Nottingham and I hadn’t actually realised it was over two days, so I had to drive home on Saturday night and then back again the next morning!

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“I’ve been told by her consultant at Great Ormond Street that tennis is so good for her because it keeps her focused and makes her feel good about something.

“This was a harder standard than Nottingham but she really wants to win the tournaments she plays in and achieve as much as she can in the sport. I hope this is the beginning of something big for her.”

Lily, who has been playing the sport since she was four, attends Stormont House Special School, Hackney and was a member of the team that won two disability tennis titles at the London Youth Games.

She is now preparing for a training camp in Swindon at the end of the month, followed by the next tournament in the Tennis Foundation series, which takes place at Welwyn Garden City in March.

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