Thursday 14 December 2017

Where are they now?

Lesley O'Halloran
Lesley O'Halloran

Lesley O'Halloran (Tennis player)

Although Lesley O'Halloran took up tennis when she was 12, she was considered a late starter. The first competitive match she ever played was a local competition at under 14 level. After that she progressed onto a Leinster squad but it took a while for her to make an impact.

"When I got on the squad there were 16 others on it and I was by far the worst," says O'Halloran. "So I picked a girl who was almost as bad as me and I asked her to practise with me. So we practised during the winter and then the following summer I improved and started making finals and was on the Leinster under 14 team."

By the time she was 16, O'Halloran was representing Ireland and it didn't take long for the American colleges to take notice of her ability and offer her a scholarship. She started off in Georgia in 1981 and finished up in Texas a few years later with a PE teaching qualification. After graduation, she joined the circuit and started travelling around the world but it wasn't an easy existence.

"I was travelling by myself; I didn't have a coach so it was very much learn as you go. When you go and play matches and you have no one to talk to after, it is difficult and also you have no one to practise with or warm up with."

Although O'Halloran was very much on her own, she still did well, qualifying for Wimbledon in 1989 and getting to the second round of the doubles. After three years she left the circuit but, looking back now, she believes she should have given it more time.

The Dublin woman also represented Ireland for over 13 years, retiring from international duty in 1998. The following year she hurt her hip and was out for six years. However, her condition improved and she got back on the court and slowly but surely regained her form. She now plays on the seniors tour. She finished 2012 ranked number one in the world in singles and doubles and was European player of the year in her age group. O'Halloran also plays for the Irish seniors and last year was on the World Championship winning team.

She is a coach in Donnybrook and Blackrock tennis clubs. She recently suffered an elbow injury but intends to get back playing soon.

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