National glory for ace Ella

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A young Preston girl has her heart set on being a Wimbledon winner of the future.

Nine-year-old Ella McDonald, pictured right, is one of the top juniors in the country and recently scooped her first national title.

The Cottam Primary School pupil was crowned champion in the LTA Grade Two Under-9s Winter National Tour event, which was held at Bolton Arena.

McDonald – whose father Neil used to play football for Preston North End and is currently the assistant manager to Sam Allardyce at West Ham United – was victorious in all six of her matches, including a win over Lolita Winter-Smith 7-5 8-6 in a nail-biting final.

The youngster, who regularly attends LTA regional training camps, was also successful in a Under-10s Grade Three competition at Birchwood and came runner-up at a tournament in Shrewsbury.

Proud mum Joanne said: “She’s been playing since she was three and played at South Ribble Tennis Centre, in Bamber Bridge.

“She has since moved to the Bolton Arena which is an international high performance centre. It is one of four top-class centres in the country and she is coached by Danielle Hock.”

Left-hander McDonald plays in a similar way to her favourite player Laura Robson, who she met at a tournament in Dubai.

Her best shot is the drive volley and she has been lucky enough to have watched many of her idols – including Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki – up close at Wimbledon.

She would love to follow in their footsteps and turn professional but her mum said: “Who knows if she can make a career out of the game? She trains three times a week and just loves playing. At the moment, all her hard work is paying off.”