Story/Interview August 9, 2022

It’s game set and match for Elizabeth Evans, King’s InterHigh’s latest ambassador

By King's InterHigh

Meet Elizabeth Evans, a 14-year-old star student and tennis icon of the future!

She is based in both Cardiff and Swansea, where she studies maths, English, science and history, online at King’s InterHigh, alongside her training to become a pro tennis player.

Here, we discuss with Elizabeth and her mother Ellen how she excels both academically and in tennis, her tips for others trying to do the same, and her exciting tennis and legal ambitions for the future!

 At King’s InterHigh, we are lucky enough to support many talented students whose exceptional skills take them away from the classroom. Tell us about your area of excellence, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: When I was younger, I tried so many sports, like swimming, football, and ballet, but I was never enthusiastic about any of them. Then one day when I was four years old my brother and I attended a tennis class and I fell in love with the game! I joined a local club between Cardiff and Swansea and have been playing ever since at Swansea Tennis Centre!

Ellen: In addition to her tennis skills, Elizabeth is also very academic, so it was important for her to be able to balance the right tennis training while still receiving a high standard of education, so she can get her GCSEs and A Levels.

 Tell us about your tennis accolades

Elizabeth: I am really proud of my success in tennis tournaments! I won the Welsh championships three times, and about a month ago I competed in an 18-and-under UK national competition where I came third! As I’m still only 14, this really boosted my confidence!

I’ve also played for Wales multiple times and twice I’ve attended the Welsh Home Nations tournament which includes England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Last year, we were the only team to win in our age group and I managed to win all my five matches! Back in March, our Welsh team won the Tennis Wales Awards!

Last year, I gained sponsorship from Wilson Tennis Apparel! Currently, they provide me with rackets, tennis bags and other equipment, which enables me to thrive at the competitions I attend. This level of recognition is brilliant! As I continue to progress, I hope this sponsorship will extend to a higher level of support so I can continue to grow as a tennis athlete.

 This is an amazingly successful record! How much training do you have to do to achieve this level of excellence?

Elizabeth: I have to train five days a week Monday to Friday and undergo one to one coaching sessions and competitions on the weekend. More recently, because of Kings Interhigh, I have been able to train and compete more overseas; I have just spent two weeks training in Spain! It was not only lovely to train in the sun, but also I was able to play on Spanish clay, which will prepare me for competitions in which I will be expected to play on similar surfaces. Each day I had two training sessions along with all-important fitness sessions, due to which I now feel really prepared to compete abroad! I plan to go on more overseas training trips to maintain this preparation!

For example, I feel I am now ready to play in overseas International Tennis Federation (ITF) competitions. It is really hard to get into these competitions but thankfully I’ve just qualified! Soon I will also fly to Kenya for three weeks of more tennis competitions!

When I’m not overseas, we spend most days driving from Cardiff to Swansea – which is a 60-mile round trip - to various training sessions. Last Thursday we did this four times to attend all my training sessions!

 When and why did you choose to leave physical schooling?

Elizabeth: My tennis training sessions were becoming detrimental to my education, as I was missing a lot of classes. When I had to go away to compete in a tennis tournament, or when I had my training sessions, I found it increasingly difficult to gain the school notes and support I needed to catch-up!

It was actually during the pandemic lockdown that I realised I could cope with online learning!

In October 2021, my parents and I started discussing my options and we came across King’s InterHigh. I was a little nervous at first, as I didn’t know what it would be like, but I’ve really enjoyed it! The online lessons are so flexible around my schedule, which means I can complete all my tasks at school and focus on my tennis training at the same time! I no longer have to choose one or the other!

One day, I want to be a lawyer, so I take my studying seriously and need my teaching to be of the highest standard. Thankfully all the teachers at King’s InterHigh are great and certainly provide me with the quality of education I need!

Ellen: Elizabeth was self-disciplined during the pandemic, which enabled her to successfully balance her school work and tennis. This gave us the confidence we needed to move her to online learning. It was Elizabeth’s decision, and we backed her 100%!

Online learning has made everything less stressful, which, in turn, has made us a lot calmer as a family! We aren’t constantly rushing around, trying to organise dinner between school, work and tennis training, and Elizabeth is so much happier now she doesn’t have to constantly worry about catching up on her schoolwork.

 What are your future academic plans?

Elizabeth: When I finish my A Levels, I really want to study Law at a university in the USA. This is because the strong team tennis culture stateside would offer me a great opportunity to expand into coaching! Of course, once I’ve finish university, I want to become a professional tennis player! !

I think everyone who wants to follow a sporting dream has to be aware that there are many things that can disrupt this, such as injuries. I am still quite young, and I’ve had about five injuries. One arm injury put me out for about three months, which held me back, as I couldn’t practice or win any titles! However, this just motivated me to get into my best form ever. I work with a really good physio and do lots of strength and conditioning between training which is key! Resilience is so important!

With this in mind, it’s always important to have a back-up plan. If I’m not able to progress onto the pro tennis circuit, I’ll focus on a career in law. I enjoy debating and have a big interest in people and supporting them. It would be great to be able to defend people who need it!

 Has online education helped you reach your full potential both academically and professionally in terms of tennis?

Elizabeth: Yes, definitely! It helped me balance education and physical training. I think it will help me a lot when it comes to GCSEs next year because I will have access to much more support at school. It’s so much easier! I can concentrate on tennis, as I don’t have to worry about my schooling anymore.

 How has it impacted your social life?

Elizabeth: I have a great group of tennis friends who I am around all the time. However, I have always struggled to find time to spend with my school friends. Thankfully, King’s InterHigh has saved me so much time I used to spend travelling from school and feeling like I always had to be in two places at once. This has given me more free time, which I can spend with loved ones!

 What is your advice to other people considering King’s InterHigh?

Elizabeth: Whether, like me, you have pressures on your daily schedule, or if you simply don’t respond well to learning in a traditional classroom, King’s InterHigh provides a very real alternative. You get more independence but equally the teachers are there for you as mentors!

At King’s InterHigh, I feel in control of my life! If I miss a lesson, I am able to follow up at the end of the day. Previously, I relied on chasing up my classmates to give me notes but now I can easily access the video recording of each class which is really helpful! !

My timetable has lots of gaps, so I can schedule my training sessions accordingly!

My advice to other students considering learning through King’s InterHigh is that you have to be organised. My mum originally thought she’d have to organise my classes, but I’ve done this together with the King’s InterHigh team. Each week, I write a list of the lessons I can attend and the ones I will be missing, along with my homework tasks too. This level of planning and organisation works very well for me. We have a really clear schedule with school and tennis sessions, which puts my mind at ease!

My other tip is to regularly communicate with teachers, especially if you have to miss a lesson or need an extension for homework, as they will find a solution for you!

I feel so privileged to be given this opportunity to balance my learning with pursuing my tennis dream. I can’t wait to meet the other King’s InterHigh ambassadors to learn from them. I hope this interview will give people more confidence to join online schools, as it was definitely the right move for me.
King’s InterHigh has given me the perfect balance of freedom and support, which has made me more confident! I have a great relationship with my teachers, which has made me feel more ready for life after school too.

By King's InterHigh

King’s InterHigh is an independent British international online school. Offering Primary, Secondary and Sixth Form education, we cater to students from age 7 – 18 who are looking for a high quality British education delivered in a way that revolves around their lifestyle.