JORDANNE WHILEY – POCKET DYNAMO!
When ICN met Jordanne Whiley at her home in Ickenham, she had just returned from winning the US Open Wheelchair Doubles with her partner, Yui Kamiji. This historic achievement makes her the first British player ever to win a calendar Grand Slam, having already won Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open tournaments this year.
Jordanne, now 22, was born with brittle bone disease, a congenital bone disorder characterized by brittle, fracture-prone bones. By the time she was just twelve, she had already broken her legs 26 times, forcing Jordanne to endure seemingly endless operations and, “having numerous bits of metal inserted in my legs”, she said, “Now I’m only 4’10” tall but I have a very strong upper body and can hit the tennis ball harder than anyone in the wheelchair world!
“My sister and father have the same disability. My father also played wheelchair tennis but it hadn’t been recognised as a professional sport by then. He encouraged me to start playing at the age of three and I was talent-spotted at twelve. I settled for this sport because it’s a non-contact sport, so I’m less likely to get injured, and I don’t find it boring, like wheelchair racing. International wheelchair tennis is an expensive sport though and, even for the top players, the prize-money and sponsorship doesn’t cover the costs of the flights.
“I need to have a special wheelchair made specifically to fit my body for competitive use. Each one costs £3,500 and I also have to have a spare wheelchair in case one breaks on the court. Fortunately, my wheelchairs are provided free by the manufacturer, RGK Ltd. At the major tournaments, technicians are available to do on the spot repairs because the matches have to go on without big delays.
“Unlike the top able-bodied tennis players, we are often required to play two matches a day and sometimes three, which can be very tiring, particularly at Wimbledon playing on grass courts! However, the atmosphere there is fantastic and Wimbledon is easily my favourite venue.”
Jordanne is kept busy with tournaments and was off to play in Italy soon after our meeting. Like most wheelchair players she plays singles and doubles but, presently, is more successful at doubles, and she and her partner, Yui are currently ranked number 2 in the world. Next year, Jordanne plans to concentrate on her singles game to improve her singles ranking, currently 5 in the world. Naturally, she will be entering all the Grand Slams again, and her long term ambition is to win the Paralympics! And with her determination and obvious skill who’s to say we won’t have a Paralympic gold medallist in Ickenham?
|REMEMBRANCE SERVICES AT THE ICKENHAM CHURCHES
The Remembrance Sunday Service at the URC takes place on Sunday 9th November. The service will be joined by young people and leaders from local Scouts and Guides. The Service will begin at 10.50am, and there will be a radio link-up with the act of commemoration at the Cenotaph in London, including the 2 minutes silence at 11 o'clock. There will be a short Act of Remembrance around the flagpole in St Giles' Churchyard, beginning at 10.55am on Tuesday 11th November. Everyone is welcome at these services.