From Wimbledon Wildcard to MBE: Swansea’s tennis stars recognised in national Awards
Three generations of tennis stars took home the gold at the renowned Tennis Wales Awards 2023, in recognition for their international tennis success: Wimbledon Wildcard Mimi Xu, international youth coach Luke Simeone, and local tennis legend David Stillman MBE.
Each year, Tennis Wales, in collaboration with the LTA, awards players, volunteers, coaches, clubs, and supporters across the nation for their achievements and unwavering support in developing access to tennis across the country.
Winners – revealed at the ceremony on 23rd February in Cardiff Arms Park – are nominated by the tennis community, celebrating those who’ve made impactful difference in their local area.
Following her wildcard entry into the Ladies Singles at Wimbledon in summer 2022, Mimi Xu has been awarded Junior Player of the Year for her continued commitment to improving and for representing Wales on both national and international stages. Now ranked within the top 30 junior girls in the world (ITF rankings), Xu’s commitment to tennis is unmatched.
Involved in tennis since Primary School, 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. A few years on and 2022 saw Mimi win both the U16 and U18 Great Britain National Championships titles last year, in addition reaching the final 16 of 2022’s junior Wimbledon.
Mimi’s nominator said: “[Mimi] gets involved in national training opportunities in Wales, bringing a really positive energy to the courts. Mimi clearly has a lot of fun as she pushes herself to improve.”
Chris Lewis, Head of Performance at Tennis Wales continued: “We’ve seen Mimi grow from a tiny tots’ tennis player to the extremely talented global star she is today, and we’re extremely proud of her progress.”
“We hope Mimi’s achievements as a Welsh player continue to inspire young girls across Wales – and the rest of the UK – to step onto the courts and give tennis a go.”
The Performance Coach of the Year award was presented to Luke Simeone from Swansea Tennis Centre. As captain of three South Wales teams, 2022 saw Luke lead the South Wales U14s to become national champions, the U12s county team to national finals, and the U12s Home Nations team to victory in the GB Nationals.
Further recognised for his commitment to inspiring and developing young players from across the Swansea region, Luke has since been selected as assistant captain for the Great Britain U18 Summer Cup team.
These efforts were recognised by Luke’s nominator, who said, “Luke has played a key role in mentoring and developing various level 1, 2, and 3 coaches. In doing so, he has introduced a fun and innovating curriculum to the U10 programme and is a leader to the younger coaches.”
While Mimi is just at the start of her tennis career, and Luke is helping new coaches take their first steps (or serves) in their new roles, the recipient of The President’s Award has been taking to the courts for over 50 years.
David Stillman MBE
David Stillman MBE received the accolade, in honour of his exceptional contributions to tennis in Wales and Great Britain. A teacher by profession and player for over half a century, David has represented his school, college, the RAF, combined service, county, and national teams, and in 2022 by captained the Senior Home Nations Team for the fourth year running.
Having been a member of the South Wales Senior Tennis Committee for 24 years, Chair of that same committee for 10 years, and treasurer of the RAF Tennis Association for the last six years, a significant portion of David’s life has been committed to tennis development both on and off the court.
David’s nominator said: “David actively encourages players of all abilities as evidenced by the recent work in Swansea David Lloyd. Wherever he has played he has sought to include those who are less able, providing opportunity and time to help others. He is a man of integrity on and off the court.
“Championing change and progression in the sport, David consistently seeks to encourage new players of all abilities to take their turn on the court and to pick up a racket for the first time. “
This year’s Tennis Wales Awards took place at Cardiff Arms Park on 23rd February, crowning winners in sixteen categories recognised for individual, cooperative, and club awards.
The annual awards ceremony welcomes nominees and their family and friends, aiming to inspire and celebrate tennis stars of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Winners from several of the Tennis Wales Awards will be automatically put forward for the UK-wide LTA Awards, which will be announced in stages between January and May.
Simon Johnson, Tennis Wales CEO, said: “It’s been a great year for tennis in Wales. We’re hoping to build on this positive momentum in 2023, recognising and celebrating the dedication and achievements made by our brilliant teams, players, and volunteers throughout the year.”
“We hope players and coaches like David, Mimi and Luke continue to inspire others to pick up a racket. We look forward to seeing familiar and new faces on the court in the coming year.”
(Lead image: Tennis Wales)
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