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Shepparton tennis ace offered US college scholarship

Young tennis star Laura Kelly has been offered a scholarship with United States division-one college Mercer University, based in Georgia.

MATTHEW GALEA July 31, 2014 3:53am

Laura Kelly has received a college scholarship offer.

Playing and training at the famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in the United States for the past two years has only served to whet Laura Kelly’s appetite for the game.

Working under the same coach and programs that helped shape the games of Serena and Venus Williams, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Martina Hingis proved a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and Kelly is now hoping to take her game to the next level.

Boasting a noticeable American accent, Kelly will continue to call the US home after receiving a full scholarship offer from division-one college Mercer University.

‘‘The academy was awesome. I made so many friends and one of my friends has gone professional, but we’re all pretty much going to college now,’’ Kelly said.

‘‘My backhand has improved a lot and I’m much more consistent. I still love my forehand, though.

‘‘I was playing in (International Tennis Federation) tournaments, so I travelled a lot with the girls and was playing against some girls in the world’s top 20 juniors.’’

Kelly said she was eagerly anticipating the opportunity to move into the college system at such a prestigious school.

‘‘Mercer University is ranked in the top 60 in the nation, which is really cool.

‘‘I’m really excited, I’ve flown in last Friday and I’m flying out on the 9th (August) so I’m only here for two weeks really and then we’re straight into it.’’

The 18-year-old will face a tough pre-season regime when she arrives in Georgia for the new campaign.

‘‘We get up at 5am every day and work out to 6, then we’re on the court ’til 8 or 9, so it’s full-on,’’ Kelly said.

‘‘Our season runs through the spring, so we’ll be travelling every other week, even to places like California.’’

It won’t be all fun and games for Kelly though, as she pursues a business degree.

‘‘Mercer is like the Stamford of the south, so it’s very hard academically,’’ Kelly said.

‘‘It will be a new experience, but it will be exciting.

‘‘The college sports are huge there. It’s hard to comprehend, really, I’m so excited.’’

Kelly said she was thankful for the support of her parents Glen and Lisa, who regularly bring her back to Shepparton for Christmas and summer holidays, and also visit when they can.

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