A teenager from Bedford, who has played at Riverside Tennis Club since he was three-years-old, has begun a tennis scholarship in Philadelphia, USA.
Brennan Connelly, 18, will be playing college tennis for Thomas Jefferson University at the highest NCAA Division 1 level alongside studying for a degree in Industrial Design.
And he credits his training at Bedford’s Riverside Tennis Club for helping him achieve this opportunity.
He will be one of nine players representing the Jefferson Rams Men’s Tennis Team along with several international players from Brazil, Sweden and Turkey – a far cry from the Riverside Tennis ‘Mini Tots’ programme where he first picked up racquet.
The former Bedford Modern School pupil progressed through the ‘Mini Tennis’ programme for players aged 10 & Under before training in many of the Performance Squads at the Club.
Competing for both Riverside and Bedfordshire over the years, he successfully qualified for the ‘Road to Wimbledon Finals’ at the age of 14 before becoming the Men’s Singles Club Champion at Riverside at the age of 16 and for two consecutive years.
Brennan was ranked nationally in his age groups as a junior and learnt from a young age to balance both his studies and tennis training.
Mat Dunkley, Head of Performance, at Riverside who coached Brennan for over 11 years, said: “Brennan is one of the hardest working and most focused players I have ever worked with.
“I am sure he will make the most of this incredible opportunity that he has earned.”
Brennan said: “Without all the great tuition and support I have received from all of the coaches at Riverside over the years I would not be in a position to accept this amazing opportunity.
“I would like to take this chance to say a huge thank you to everyone at Riverside for contributing to my journey, in particular to Mat Dunkley who has coached me on an individual basis and has put up with me for 11 years.
“I am really excited about this opportunity and I am really looking forward to seeing what the future will bring at Thomas Jefferson University.”
Martha Habershon, Director of Coaching at Riverside, hopes that many of the younger players at the Club will be inspired by Brennan’s hard work and determination.
She herself played college tennis in America for four years, so knows first hand what a great opportunity for any young players this is.
“I would encourage our younger players wanting to play tennis to a high level while studying for a degree to seriously consider the option in the future.”
Brennan’s progress can be followed via the Jefferson Rams Men’s Tennis website.