Lauren determined to stay number one

Lauren Jones
Lauren Jones

WORTHING-based tennis star Lauren Jones is determined to finish the year top of the junior girls’ world wheelchair tennis rankings, after starting the year as number one.

The 17-year-old finished last year as world number four, however, the three players ranked above her last season are now too old for the junior competition.

Jones said: “It’s a successful start to 2013 –being ranked world junior number one and qualifying top seed for the junior championship.”

The ex-Durrington High School student qualified as top seed for the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters, the most premier tournament for wheelchair tennis players aged 18 and under, however, owing to injury she could not compete in the event, which took place last month.

The teenager started the sport only three years ago, after she broke her back when she fell out of a tree in 2009. In her first year, in 2010, she won the mixed doubles and made it to the semi-finals in the under-19 junior girls singles in her first tournament – the English National Tennis Championships.

Jones also went on to be selected for the GB Paralympic future squad, as well as finishing the season ranked third in the GB junior rankings and within the top 30 juniors in the world, earning her the LTA Sussex outstanding achievement award, in her first season.

The next year, 2011, proved to be an even more successful year for Jones, who soared to number one seed in the GB junior rankings, as well as number six in the world.

The teenager also picked up the disabled sports personality of the year award, LTA Sussex players’ player award and NWTA most improved female of the year award.

Last year, Jones carried on her fine form, as she won her first senior National ­Championship women’s doubles title, with Jordanne Whiley, before winning her first international women’s doubles title at the Esporta Cardiff tournament, alongside Louise Hunt.

Jones was just three ranking places away from competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and, after being ranked world junior number one, the teenager will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of GB paralympian Whiley, who also once topped the world girls’ rankings.

She said: “I’m aiming for a gold in Rio and want to enter the top five rankings for women in the world, with the long-term aim of reaching number one.”

Jones currently sits 48th in the women’s single rankings, after becoming the youngest woman to enter the top 50 and, this year, she plans to stay there: “I want to retain my number one seed in the juniors this year and remain in the top 50 of the women’s rankings, but I’m aiming to reach the top 30.”