Story/Interview February 20, 2024

Game, set, match from the court to the online classroom | Kyle Babbage, tennis athlete and online school student

By King's InterHigh

Emerging tennis star Kyle Babbage is dedicated from the court to the classroom. Alongside winning international competitions and moving up the ranks, he also shines as an online school student here at King's InterHigh.

We sat down with Kyle to learn more about how he balances tennis training with his learning, what he loves most about learning with us, and his top tips and advice for others like him.

Kyle’s journey to date

 Tell us a bit about what you do!

Kyle: I started this really young at around four years old. I just went to a couple of sessions. I got quite good at it, but I was also doing a lot of other sports at that time. Once I started really enjoying it, I thought I might as well just take it to the next level and try and do it on its own.

I committed fully to that, and it's been going really good from there. I’ve been playing really high competitive tennis as well, from quite young, and it's been going really well right now. Right now, I'm starting to get to the stage where I can really get the high performance and try to play international grades all around the world, because I'm that kind of level. It just keeps going.

Ranking wise in Britain, I’m around 70th in the country out of thousands of people in the under fourteens age group. But obviously, once you keep going up and up, it will get a lot better. I also recently got a European ranking, which is really good.

 What’s your favourite thing about tennis?

Kyle: My favourite part is competitions. I love the adrenaline and playing my game all by myself. Even though some people say it can be quite hard to play one to one or by myself, I just like being in my own mind. I can just focus and concentrate, and it's quite nice for me.

 What’s been your biggest achievement so far?

Kyle: When I won this tournament a year or two ago by a sponsored company, one of the biggest tennis companies in the world. They hosted a tournament for British players, and all top players in Britain had to compete for this tournament. You had to accumulate points over a year to get to the finals, and you play over a weekend at a really high level at a really nice club.

It was a really good experience, and luckily enough, I actually won the tournament. I got a sponsorship from the company for a year, and they took me to one of the most prestigious academies in the world, which is Rafa Nadal Academy, for a week.

 Who's your biggest inspiration?

Kyle: I really think my team, which is a lot of people. It's still growing, but right now, it's mostly my family, a lot of my friends around me (mostly from my sport), and my coaches and trainers. They're all really supportive, and if we keep going forward from what we're doing now, it's gonna be really good.

My tennis hero was Rafael Nadal, and he's been my inspiration for so many years. Now he's coming to the end of his career, my new, really good inspiration person to look up to is Carlos Alcaraz.

 What’s the next big goal you’re working towards?

Kyle: Right now, it's the off season, so there aren’t many tournaments right now. It's a really good time to just start practicing and training and getting ready for next year. Next year is probably going to be one of my biggest years to move forwards because I'm going to try and start playing in some international tournaments, which are higher than the ones I'm playing right now. You’ve got to be really, really, really good, just below professional level to get into the highest grades. But if you start from the beginning, which is what I'm trying to do, and work your way up… that's what I'm trying to get to.

 Your biggest ambition for the future?

Kyle: I feel like in 10 years’ time, I would really like to be on the tour as a professional, traveling a lot, playing the sport which I love so much, and hopefully at least to top 200 or top 100. Obviously, wherever I can get is amazing.

Rafa Nadal Academy, where Kyle won a scholarship to train in 2022.

School, then and now

 What was school like before your joined us?

Kyle: Before King's InterHigh, I went to a mainstream school, a grammar school. It was quite strict and structured and we could cope with the pressure, but it was quite hard balancing my tennis with school. I had specific school times where, once you're in school, you can't leave and come out to train as often as I need to.

Plus, if you're playing high-quality tournaments, there are always tournaments during school weeks. Tournaments can last weeks depending on far you get through them, so it was hard to travel and get to tournaments while also missing school.

Now, it’s a lot better juggling between the two. In online school, if I really need to do something important with my training, it's really good that I can miss a live lesson and then come back and rewatch it. It helps me increase my practice times.
It used to be tennis orientated around my school, but now it's school orientated around tennis.

Obviously, I'm still putting in the hard work in both, but it's a lot freer and easier.

 How are things different now?

Kyle: That flexibility is the main thing I love — that I can just go in between lessons and do my aspiration. I like how the timetables are split. They really give you space to relax, and you don't always have to go from one lesson to another. Some days can be quite busy and some days can be more relaxed, so you can take a little break from school for a little bit.

 What does a typical school day look like for you at King's InterHigh?

Kyle: My days change because I do loads of different things on different days. Mostly, I wake up, get ready, and do a little bit of fitness in the morning to relax my muscles after training the day before.
Then, I go into my lessons for however long they are, and sometimes I have breaks. I really like joining live lessons. I think they’re really beneficial for learning, being able to interact with the teachers and students.

After that, I might sometimes go to the gym or go swimming. After my school day is finished, I go to the club and just train for as long as possible. Even if I go by myself, there are a lot of things that you can do by yourself on a tennis court.

I play and train around three times from Monday to Friday. My parents always want me to have a day of rest. The amount of time fluctuates, but I usually train for four to five hours per day. Some days I might do seven or eight hours of tennis in one day, and other days I might do two or three hours and then go to the gym.

 What's the most unusual place you've joined a lesson from?

Kyle: Just last week, I went to this international tournament in Liverpool, which was quite far away. I had a match in the morning, and literally right before the match, I was doing a lesson. I was warming up and stretching just before my match while I was in my lesson.

 What's your favourite subject, and do you have a favourite teacher?

Kyle: I actually really like film studies. I've always liked analysing and watching films my whole life. I really like animations and all that kind of stuff, so film study really inspires me.

I’ve also always been quite good at maths. Even though I feel like, sometimes, it can be a little bit easy, it's always just something that I like to do.
I feel like all the teachers are extremely good because they're really helpful and kind. I haven't been in the school for extremely long, but they're all really helpful and I really like all of them.

 Do you know what you want to study for your A Levels in the future?

Kyle: I do psychology right now [and want to continue], and because of my sports, it would really be good to try and do something to do with sport.

 What's it like studying in a virtual classroom?

Kyle: I like to explore all the different platforms in the school, and I think it's good to just find out what you like the most. In the lessons. I find the polls and surveys are really good. Because it’s anonymous, there's not too much pressure on you and you don’t get too nervous — you can write what you want, and if it's not correct, then no one's going to get angry at you.

 Did you have any worries about online school before joining King's InterHigh?

Kyle: At the time of COVID, we were already in an online kind of school, so that gave me a lot of confidence to move [to King’s InterHigh]. I wanted to do online school for a long time before that; it was just trying to convince my parents to allow me to switch because it's quite a big change. But it was definitely worth it.

 What social activities do you like best at King's InterHigh?

Kyle: I like how King's InterHigh have all these optional competitions that you can do in your own free time. I’ve tried the cooking one, which was actually quite cool. There are all these nice competitions that you can talk to people about.

The student platform, Viva Engage, which I've been on quite a bit, is also a really good place to make friends and talk. I've joined a couple of groups there and it’s been nice to talk to other students.

Discover more about our online school community and wide range of social activities

Looking forward

 In your opinion, what's the best part about learning online at King's InterHigh?

Kyle: The best part is the freedom. Sometimes I have a lesson earlier in the morning, so I can just wake up and hop on quickly, and then after it finishes, I can get ready. Or, I might have a later lesson, and before that can just do what I want to do; I can have a tennis session or I can just relax. I really love the freedom and flexibility of everything that I can do.

 Do you have any advice you'd give to your past self before joining King's InterHigh?

Kyle: If I had to give myself one piece of advice, it would probably have been to manage my time a bit better. Now, I've got the timetable that King's InterHigh has given us and I've set a calendar for all the tournaments I've got and all the training sessions. They're all given to my family and team around me so we all know what's going on and there's no pressure or rush.

 What's your top tip for managing stress and balancing your life with your passions?

Kyle: It's all about being open. If you’re struggling, you can talk to people; if they care for you, they’ll want to help. If I'm stuck with anything or if I need help, I talk to my family.

 What would you say to another student who's considering joining King's InterHigh?

Kyle: It's quite a big change, but if you feel like it could help your learning, and if you also have a passion like me (sports or whatever you're interested in) that you want to balance more, then I think it's a really good idea to switch to an online school.

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.

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