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4 Oct 2007

One of Wales’ brightest tennis talents is preparing to face a sporting giant. Caldicot’s Philip Cochrane will compete at the Esporta Cardiff Wheelchair Tournament (12-14 October 2007) and may come up against Jayant Mistry - four-times Paralympian and winner of sixty eight international titles.Tennis thumbnail 2

Mistry recently retired from the international circuit and will be a top contender for the lion’s share of the $US 1500 prize fund on offer in Cardiff next week:

"I’ve retired from competing internationally so it’s nice to compete more locally and I’m looking forward to playing my first tournament in Cardiff. Philip is one of our top juniors and he’s definitely one to watch. He’s got it all there and I wish him all the best."

"I can remember when I started playing tournaments. I’d see the top players and it was pretty daunting. But while you know they’re good, you also realise that things can be achieved," added Mistry who is now planning to become a coach to support youngsters coming the ranks.

Though just 13-years-old, Cochrane is already beating senior men and he will be planning to continue to send shockwaves through the sport when he competes on his home turf.

He believes the tournament will be a tough test, "I’ve not played Jayant before as he was a world tour top 20 player for many years, whereas I only started three years ago.

"It will be big ask if I come up against him. He’s a world-class player. But I’m aiming to play to the best of my ability and to continue working on my game regardless of who is on the other side of the net. I’m also out to earn ranking points. I’m going to have to play the top players regularly now and I know it is going to be tough."

His father, Neil Pratt, says, "This season has been very encouraging insofar as he has beaten players which he would not have done this time last year – it is the result of the coaching he receives from Rebecca Strelzyn at Newport Performance Tennis Centre and from GB National Junior coach Geraint Richards. He has won regularly abroad and is growing in strength and confidence."

He blew away the opposition at the British Wheelchair Tennis National Championships this summer. Competing against men at senior level, he won both the mens singles and junior boys singles without dropping a set.

Just four months later, he was on court in Italy for the Citta di Livorno tournament where he reached the semi-finals of the men’s second draw singles in his first-ever major senior–ranking tournament. It is no surprise that he was the winner of the Disabilities Player of the Year Award at the Tennis Wales Awards in July.

The London 2012 hopeful can also turn his hand to other sports and is a former age-group winner of the London Wheelchair mini-marathon. He also takes time out from his hectic schedule to play basketball for the Cardiff Bay Tigers.

John Gilgar of Disability Sport Wales explains, "Philip is a committed and hard-working player. He is ranked third in Britain and seventh in the world among players aged up to 18 – this is outstanding considering he is still only 13."

Tournament director Paul Pritchard of Tennis Wales is delighted with this year’s entry, "It is of a very high standard and features high ranking British players. The tournament is part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and is one of only four NEC Tournaments to be held in the UK in 2007."

The NEC Tour originated in 1992 and has expanded to take in 110 tournaments every year in more than 29 different countries.