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Castle Youngster Served Up A Real Treat

TENNIS by Jackie Thorley

NEWCASTLE schoolboy Jack Eagles had a huge surprise when Blue Peter children's TV presenter Andy Akinwolere accepted his challenge to a game of tennis. Jack's dream match at the Birmingham-based Billesley indoor centre got even better when the top British women's player, Anne Keothavong, stepped out from behind a curtain and announced she would umpire proceedings.

"It was all a bit surreal," said the 13-year-old Chesterton Community Sports College pupil. "I'm used to being watched by a few people, but while they were filming the match there were lots watching us. It was almost like it wasn't really happening to me." And the youngster's feet barely touched the ground as the Russian former world number one, Maria Sharapova, arrived on an adjacent court to practise for the Aegon Classic WTA tournament, which was being held last week at Edgbaston. "It was hard to concentrate with Sharapova practising on the court by us," he added. "And it was brilliant when Anne Keothavong turned up. "I knew who she was straight away because I like watching the British players and I have followed her progress for some time. I'd give the day 11 out of 10 for fun and excitement."

The Basford player took up tennis five years ago and represents the club in the National Junior Club League. He is so hooked on the sport that he decided to contacted the BBC production team to challenge one of the Blue Peter presenters to a game. "I didn't really expect to hear anything. It came as a complete surprise," said Jack. "I did a bit of training with Andy. We did some forehands and serves and they were recording it all, and later we played a short set."

After winning the match, Jack was presented with a Blue Peter badge and tennis ball signed by Keothavong and fellow top Brit, Andy Murray.

Sentinel, 16 June 2009
Courtesy of The Sentinel News & Media

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