Scotland has everything Lumsden needs to progress29 February 2016
It took a spell at a US tennis academy for teenage tennis prodigy Maia Lumsden to realise she had everything she needed in Scotland to progress to the next level.
Life has now turned circle for the 2012 Junior Orange Bowl winner who came home in September to pursue her aim of being a top professional.
And she justified her decision this month when she reached her first $10,000 Futures final in Scotstoun.
“It was good in the States but I didn’t have my own coach there and I felt I needed to have more individual coaching,” said 18-year-old Maia.
“So I came home and started back with my Tennis Scotland coaches Toby Smith and Joe Gill.
“It works really well because they know me and they care a lot about my game. Now, every day I feel like I’m making good progress and I believe that’s why my tournaments have been going really well.”
Her support in Scotland goes far deeper than simply coaching. Maia has the benefits of a team of professionals from Tennis Scotland and the sportscotland institute of sport, hitting partners on the University of Stirling’s tennis programme, plus a recent scholarship from Winning Students.
“There are some really great people working with me and the whole environment here makes me feel more comfortable,” said Maia, who has started a Sport Studies degree part time at Stirling.
“The University have got a lot of good players I can practice with. I train a lot with the boys which is good because they are stronger which gets me used to returning bigger serves when I’m at tournaments.
“And studying means I have something else to do, a positive distraction, so my mind’s not always tennis, tennis, tennis.
“The institute is a big help with Strength & Conditioning, performance lifestyle, physiotherapy and nutrition. And the Winning Students funding is great to have.”
As one of 148 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes, Maia receives funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.
Seventeen Scottish universities and 14 colleges form the Winning Students network. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.
It’s an important year for Maia who is making the move from junior to senior tennis. And, if she can succeed whilst being based in Scotland, it might convince other talented Scottish tennis players to consider staying put.
“Long term I want to become a top pro. I’d love to be top 100 in the world and play in all the Grand Slams,” Maia added.
“Right now I feel I have everything here in Scotland. So I’m going to keep working hard to try and go up the rankings.
“I’m a lot happier and I feel I’m improving a lot more now than I did when I was away. So as long as I’m improving I’m happy.”