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The next Raducanu? The Swansea 14-year-old taking the tennis world by storm

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Winner of the 2022 Tennis Wales Player of the Year Award, Mimi Xu, is set for tennis stardom.

At just 14, Mimi became the youngest player to ever enter Junior Wimbledon after being awarded a wild card opportunity by the All England Club. The decision was based on her potential and her successes at the time, and she’s continued to thrive since – making her a worthy winner of this year’s Tennis Wales Player of the Year Award.

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Nominated by members of the tennis community, individuals awarded at the Tennis Wales awards have been recognised for their unwavering talents within the tennis world. With each displaying their own notable qualities, the awards ceremony – hosted on the 5th of March at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay – celebrated their achievements.

From winning her first U18 International event in Loughborough in September by achieving both the singles and doubles titles, to becoming the U16 GB Girls Doubles Champion, Mimi has showcased extensive skill and dedication within her craft.

Following such a successful season, previously unranked Mimi has now been recognised with a World? ranking of 323. Following in the footsteps of her hero Emma Raducanu, Mimi’s ranking is set to continue to rise this year as her 2022 success begins.

Mimi playing at Junior Wimbledon

Mimi’s nominator said: “Although she is only 14 years old, Mimi is one of Wales’ best prospects for the future. She has had a successful year both in domestic and international events, and everyone is so proud.”

Involved in tennis since early Primary School age, Mimi first started playing at Swansea Tennis & Squash Club with Dai Williams before moving into a comprehensive programme under the guidance of Fran Lewis at Swansea Tennis Centre.

Now a full-time student at the LTA National Academy in Loughborough, Mimi regularly plays for Team GB and represents Wales at national and international level – travelling across the UK and Europe for competitions.

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Simon Johnson, CEO of Tennis Wales, said: “The Tennis Wales awards were created to recognise people just like Mimi who deserve to be acknowledged for their incredible work within Welsh tennis.

“We have truly seen Mimi go from strength to strength, from a tennis tot to one of the most recognised youth players in the UK. Not only is she a testament to the tennis talent we have here in Wales, she’s also an inspiration to the younger players who are just starting their tennis journey. Congratulations Mimi.”

For more information about the Tennis Wales Awards, and to find a club or coach near you, visit lta.org.uk/about-us/in-your-area/tennis-wales/

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Clydach

Funding secures additional 49 life-saving defibrillators for Swansea communities

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An additional 49 easily accessible life-saving defibrillators are being installed at retail locations in communities right across Swansea in the coming months.

Swansea Council is working with the charity Heartbeat Trust UK to increase public access to this vital equipment and to become the UK’s first ‘defib-friendly’ city.

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The Council has agreed more than £60,000 in grant funding that will enable the Charity to place and insure defibrillators in locations that have 24-hour access in all 36 council wards.

These will include additional machines in retail locations in the city centre, high streets in communities including Morriston, Clydach, Gorseinon, Pontarddulais and Sketty and outside community shops or pubs in more rural locations such as Gower.

Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart said: “This equipment can easily mean the difference between life and death when someone suffers from a medical emergency such as a heart attack and we want to ensure all our residents have as much support as possible.

“There has been an increase in number of accessible defibrillators in Swansea in recent years and the Council will continue to play it’s part in growing the coverage”

Deputy Leader Andrea Lewis, who has driven the initiative, added: “Heartbeat Trust UK is already doing a fantastic job working with our communities in Swansea.

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“This grant will ensure we can get these machines installed all across the city and help save lives. Our ambition is to be Britain’s first defib-friendly city where no-one is far from a defibrillator.

“I’m confident residents in all our communities will welcome this additional support as part of our partnership with Heartbeat Trust UK.”

It is anticipated that all 49 additional machines will be in place within the next few months.

Henry Gilbert, Chair of Heartbeat Trust UK, said: “We are proud to be partnering with Swansea Council to make this city ‘defib-friendly’ in terms of the strategic placement of defibrillators in all communities, generating greater awareness of their locations and providing CPR / Defibrillator training.

“Out of hospital cardiac arrests is one the top causes of death in the UK. The timely intervention of CPR and defibrillation can improve the survival rate from less than 3% to as much as 75%. This initiative will definitely save lives in Swansea.”

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(Lead image: Wikimedia / Tanja-Denise Schantz)

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Gowerton

Three Swansea communities set to benefit as part of £25m full fibre broadband investment

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Broadband network provider Openreach is set to invest £25m in the roll-out of full-fibre broadband to 9 more Welsh communities – three of those in Swansea.

When work is complete, the majority of premises in Sketty, Gowerton, Ravenhill, Culverhouse, Llanrumney, Llanedeyrn, Cwmbran, Risca and Maindee will be able to contact their broadband provider and upgrade to full fibre broadband.

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Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS said: “The impact of fast, affordable broadband for homes and businesses across Wales cannot be underestimated, supporting a thriving and sustainable vision for our future. Openreach is helping to realise faster speeds, greater access and better support for places that have previously found it harder to connect.”

“This news is especially important at the moment with so many people working from home where a reliable broadband connection is vital”.

Connie Dixon, Openreach’s regional director for Wales, said: “Nobody in Wales or the UK is building full fibre faster, further or at a higher quality than Openreach. We’re reaching more communities than ever and our team of highly-skilled local engineers, alongside our build partners, are working hard to deliver some of the fastest and most reliable broadband available anywhere in Europe.”

“In 2021 our engineers built around 770 metres of new broadband cables every minute – making Ultrafast broadband available to another home every 13 seconds. We’ve already reached six million homes and businesses across the UK with ultrafast full fibre technology including more than 425,000 in Wales but we know there’s more to do and we’re committed to doing it.”

Full fibre broadband is up to ten times faster than the average home broadband connection and around five times more reliable than the traditional copper-based network, providing more predictable, consistent speeds.  

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Across Wales more than 100,000 homes and businesses have already ordered a full fibre service from a range of retail service providers using the Openreach network. But this means that thousands more could be benefiting from some of the fastest, most reliable broadband connections in Europe and have yet to upgrade.

Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) highlighted the clear economic benefits of connecting everyone in Wales to full fibre. It estimated this would create a £2 billion boost to the Welsh economy.

Openreach say their engineers have been working hard to make the technology available to as many people as possible throughout the UK and the company’s plans are fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable’ broadband to 85 per cent of UK by 2025.

The company say they will invest billions of pounds to reach a total of 25 million premises by the end of December 2026, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country defined by industry regulator Ofcom.

(Lead image: Openreach)

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Killay

New figures show parts of Swansea have the highest unemployment rate in Wales

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Swansea West has the highest unemployment rate in Wales – over double the national average according to new figures.

Figures from the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) research department show that Swansea West had an unemployment rate of 8.3% compared to the Welsh national average of 3.8% and the UK average of 4.5%.

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Swansea West covers areas more typically associated with an affluent part of the city including Sketty, Killay and Dunvant, however it also covers more deprived parts of the city including Townhill, and Castle ward – which covers large parts of the city centre.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats said the figures show that the Welsh Government are failing to create long-term jobs in the region and are calling for urgent investment to create new jobs. 

Commenting on the figures Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “These figures are absolutely shocking, there is no justification that allows for unemployment in Swansea West to be this high. The city has a strong history of entrepreneurship and innovation, but we need the Welsh Government to increase investment to provide more opportunities to people. 

“Swansea West already has a child poverty rate of 32 per cent, the best way to reduce this poverty remains to provide good quality employment opportunities to people living in the area. The Welsh Government must urgently increase job creation schemes in the city.”

Michael O’Carroll, the spokesperson for Swansea West Liberal Democrats added: “These figures are extremely disappointing to see and the people of Swansea West deserve better. Under a Welsh Labour government in Cardiff Bay and a Welsh Labour Council administration in Swansea Guildhall, there has been insufficient focus on creating good quality jobs, especially for young people and graduates. 

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“We have many excellent, home-grown businesses in the area but do not do enough to attract inward investment.  I am glad that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to press both the Welsh Government and UK Government to promote investment in the whole of Wales, not just in Cardiff.”

Leader of Labour-run Swansea Council, Cllr Rob Stewart has hit back at the claims however, pointing to the huge amount of investment currently underway in the city.

Cllr Stewart said: “Investment of over £1bn is underway in Swansea at present including £135m in the new Copr Bay Arena development which is part funded by Welsh Government through the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal. The Lib Dems had opposed these job creation and investment plans and have criticised the council for borrowing to invest. 

“Three new local employment and innovation hubs are planned with 2 already under construction in the city, and we have a significant development pipeline over over £2bn which is a record for Swansea. Together these schemes will create and secure thousands of local jobs. Our local economy is expected to grow at around 8% this year and we are independently rated as one of the best places in the U.K. for investment.

“This is dramatically different to the situation under the Lib Dem administration that ran Swansea from 2004-2012. They crashed parts of the city economy with the disastrous Kingsway redevelopments, outsourced Swansea jobs to Scotland and left the council with record borrowing. We will take no lessons from the Lib Dems, who lets not forget were the co-architects of the failed austerity programme which brought misery to millions when they were in Government with the Tories.”

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(Lead image: iStockPhoto)

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