COURAGE and strength of character are just two of the traits needed to make it to the top of your sport – and Borders tennis ace Lucy Porteous has both in abundance.
The Special Olympian from Stichill has done Kelso Orchard Tennis Club, Tennis Borders, Tennis Scotland, UK Tennis and Disability Sport proud throughout her time on the tennis circuit so far and, at 22, she still has the potential to reach even higher.
In honour of her achievements, Lucy and fellow Borders Special Olympian Anne Peacock, from Innerleithen, were selected for a special award from the James McLean Trust. But while sprinter Anne made it to the star-studded bash in Kelso on Saturday night (see report on page 22), Lucy was competing at an event at Nottingham.
Before she left, however, TheSouthern arranged a surprise visit to Lucy’s work at Sainsbury’s, Kelso, to present her with our very own Sports Personality of the Year Award and the talented hard-hitter was thrilled to be recognised for her achievements. Once she had recovered from the shock, Lucy told us: “This year has been one of the best ever and it just keeps getting better.”
A highly popular young lady, win or lose, Lucy always wears her trademark cheery smile, a fact that has been noticed by everyone who comes into contact with her, including coach Lesley Thomas, who has worked with Lucy to get her to her current high standard.
Lesley told us: “What stands out most about Lucy is her sheer determination. When she first started coming to the Kelso club about five years ago she couldn’t hit the ball. But she kept coming back and refused to give up, and all of a sudden it just clicked.
“She has so much fun when she is on the court and her smile lights up the club.”
During the last two years Lucy has competed at several Disability Tennis Special Olympic warm-up tournaments in Nottingham, bringing home an array of medals from gold to bronze, and earlier this year was chosen to represent the Great Britain team in tennis at the Special Olympics World Games held in Athens in June.
Lucy teamed up with Jayne Hinett, of Wolverhampton, and the pair struck gold in the tennis doubles after a tough match against a Moroccan duo. The Stichill ace then went on to secure silver in the singles.
As well as competing superbly and with great sportsmanship throughout the event, Lucy was interviewed on TV before and after her finals and spoke eloquently and with great confidence – a great ambassador for sport and the Borders. Looking back on her Athens adventure, Lucy said: “It was definitely the highlight of my tennis career and something I will never forget.”
Since returning from Athens Lucy has continued to promote and compete in her chosen sport, making appearances around the Borders Games circuit and Jed Sevens, and returning to Nottingham last weekend where she claimed yet another gold medal.
Borders Special Olympics co-ordinator Jed Renilson told TheSouthern: “Lucy is a great character and has been a fantastic ambassador for the Borders Disability Sports Group. Win or lose she always has a smile on her face and is always there to help and encourage other athletes.
“Both the girls who travelled to Athens did the Borders and their country proud.”
Lucy added: “I would like to thank Lesley and Jed and all the people who have helped and supported me since I started playing tennis. Also my mum and dad for everything they do for me.
“I love playing tennis and hopefully can continue to represent the Borders well into the future.”
Lesley Thomas attended Saturday night’s awards ceremony to collect the James McLean Award on Lucy’s behalf.