BISHOP’S HULL youngster Grace Piper has won the Under-18 Girls Singles title at the LTA Junior National Championships, held at Nottingham Tennis Centre last week.

This is the highest accolade attainable in junior tennis in the UK.

Piper, the number two seed, went into the week-long tournament in fine form, and came through tricky matches against Issey Purser (Berkshire), Megan Davies (North Wales) and Megan Carmichael (Cambridgeshire) to set up an intriguing semi-final clash with Suffolk’s Kristina Paskauskas.

It was a high-quality match of great intensity, and 16-year-old Piper played superbly to win 7-6 6-2.

In Friday’s final, she faced top seed Amelia Rajecki, who was playing on familiar territory at her home club.

With family members and coach Guy Leverton cheering her on, Piper began the match strongly, serving well and denying her more powerful opponent the opportunity to strike her trademark forehand winners.

The second set was tighter, but Piper remained focused to close out an impressive 6-0 6-4 victory, and claim the coveted title.

A similar performance in next year’s 18U tournament would earn Piper the chance to compete at Wimbledon.

This follows the LTA’s announcement last week that the winner of the 2020 18U competition will be given a wildcard into qualifying for the Championships, with both the winner and runner-up being given a wildcard into the Junior Championships.

Piper, part of TeamHead, has just completed her GCSEs at The Castle School, and will be based at the Tennis Academy at the University of Bath from this September.

She is looking to compete more regularly on the international circuit, having picked up her first victory at pro-tour level earlier in the summer.

Longer term, she hopes to gain a tennis scholarship to a university in the United States, and use this as a springboard into full-time, professional tennis.