Lifelong pals off to States to follow sporting dreams

Anna Woosley in action Picture by Rowland Charles Goodman

Anna Woosley in action Picture by Rowland Charles Goodman

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TALENTED sporting duo Anna Woosley and Izzie Brown are off to follow their dreams in America this summer after the lifelong friends both achieved scholarships in their chosen sport.

Tennis ace Woosley will study at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and athletics starlet Brown at Colorado State University - and both will be competing at the highest level of university sport with their teams.

The pair have been friends since they were aged two and attended Felpham’s Bishop Tufnell School together. Their sporting talents were visible from a young age.

No-one, however, could have predicted how quickly and how far they would have progressed - nor that they would both be bound for the States at exactly the same time in their sporting careers.

Woosley was delighted with her selection and said: “It’s difficult trying to balance an education while playing at this level - you have to be so committed and have to organise your time well.

“I’m so happy to be given the chance to go to the States for four years and hopefully progress further in my tennis and academics.” She began playing tennis for just an hour a week when she was just six years old and began competing when she was 11, but eventually progressed to being awarded a sports scholarship to Talbot Health School, Bournemouth, where she attended the West Hants Tennis Academy for four years under the watchful eyes of a great coaching team.

Woosley said: “It’s very challenging in many ways, especially financially, to play full time and travel internationally to ITF competitions.

“I believe going to America is the best option and will hopefully help me progress in my tennis while enabling me to get a great start in my career.”

She is currently Sussex county closed under-18 champion and is hoping to build on a good 2012, when she won back-to-back doubles titles at the Junior ITF and Scottish Open in Edinborough, and more recently winning all her matches for Sussex in the County Cup.

She’s had some great results recently in Aegon Team Tennis regional matches playing for Virgin Active Falmer - beating Amanda Elliot with a rating of 1.2 (6-4 6-2) - her opponent’s highest international ladies ranking was 311 in the world.

More recently she beat Claire Webb, who has rating of 3.2, decisively with a winning score of 6-2, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Brown has also shown great determination and drive to achieve her scholarship by sending e-mails and videos of her performances to the top 25 university track and field head coaches, which resulted in many offers - but she was immediately drawn to Colorado.

The university, which is near Denver, employs nationally-rated coaches including Janay DeLoach, the 2012 Olympic long-jump bronze medalist.

It also has high-quality facilities including an indoor arena for winter training which had not been available to her previously.

Isobel, who will study in the business school for four years, will have her academic programme shaped around her daily three hour training sessions and competition commitments, which includes USA-wide travel.

At Chichester High School for Girls, Brown was an all-rounder, representing the school at swimming, netball, hockey and football. At 12, having won an inter-cross country race, she joined Chichester Runners and progressed swiftly to the under-17 national high jump title a month after turning 16.

While high jump is her main focus, she is a talented heptathalete and has won regional titles and has been top-ten ranked nationally through her age groups.

Apart from her national title, Brown’s career highlights include competing at the 2013 indoor European trials, sharing a national podium with Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson in 2012, and winning medals at the last three English Schools Championships.

Brown gave most credit to David Churcher, her Portsmouth-based coach, and said: “Without my coach I would not have achieved half of what I have done. He is highly qualified and has stood by me when things have not gone well ... I will always be grateful to him.”

JOSH HARRISON