Sophie has her eyes set on No 1 in the world
Sophie Michl has been spending a lot of time out of school lately, but it’s with the blessing and backing of her teachers.
The year 8 Diocesan student is an up-and-coming tennis player and has been travelling around the globe to better her game.
Sophie visited India in May as part of a training camp, and tested her skills on clay courts.
‘‘India was a great opportunity to really improve and step my game up to another level.
‘‘Playing on clay teaches you a different way of playing tennis, you’ve got to learn where you hit the ball and physically how you move.’’
The Royal Oak Racquets Club member has big dreams and learning to play on clay, a surface we don’t have in New Zealand, will be important if she is ever to make the world stage.
Tennis has been a way of life for the Epsom resident from the age of 4 and since being introduced to the game at a holiday programme she has never looked back.
‘‘When I play tennis I don’t ever want to stop, I just want to keep on playing.
‘‘I want to win a grand slam and reach No 1 in the world for women’s tennis.’’
Sophie is in the United States for another training camp and in-between training seven days a week she manages to keep up with her school work through correspondence.
Her mother Denise noticed Sophie’s talent at a very young age and thinks her daughter could have a future in tennis.
‘‘A realistic goal for Sophie is to get a scholarship to an American university which is quite achievable for New Zealand junior players.
‘‘I love watching her but she doesn’t like me watching her play so I normally watch from a distance.’’
Denise won’t be joining her daughter in the States because travelling with your coach and team is all part of the experience, she says.
Ranjit Shinde, Sophie’s high-performance coach at Scarbro Tennis Centre, has been coaching her since she was 7 years old.
‘‘Sophie has always shown talent as a young and budding tennis player,’’ he says.
‘‘She has improved dramatically in the past few weeks, technically and physically, and I believe she is going to be one of New Zealand’s best girls in the near future.’’
When Sophie turns 13 she will be eligible to play in the International Tennis Federation junior tournaments.
Top shot: Promising tennis talent Sophie Michl, 12, lines up a forehand.