Lauren Jones...my story
In 2009, at 13 years of age, I broke my back falling out of a tree whilst playing with friends. At the time I was a budding football player and had just succeeded in passing my trial for Brighton and Hove Women’s under 16 football team.
After initially being admitted to Southampton General Hospital, I was then transferred to the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Aylesbury. Three months later and I was completely independent and doing everyday tasks for myself.
It was during my rehabilitation that I attended the Inter Spinal Unit Games, which provided me with an opportunity to try different wheelchair sports. It was here that I was spotted by a Paralympic coach for having talent in tennis, basketball and shooting. After my discharge in November 2009 I returned to school and started my wheelchair tennis training.
I entered my first tournament in May 2010, the English National Tennis Championships in Gloucestershire, and made it as far as the semi finals in the Under 19’s Junior Girls Singles. I also won the mixed doubles. Quite an achievement for someone who had been told they were permanently paralysed just a year earlier!
From here I was selected for the Great Britain Paralympic future squad and attended specialist coaching at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. After a very successful 2010, filled with many hours of training and travelling across the UK to attend tournaments, I attained the ranking of GB Junior 3 and had earned my place in the world’s top 30 juniors. I also received the LTA Sussex Outstanding Achievement Award, an award I am particularly proud of.
2011 was set to be yet another successful year, rising through the ranks to reach GB Junior 1 and internationally ranked 6th in the world, up from 27th in just over a year. I also received my first international senior ranking of 145th, which I soon improved to 78th. At the end of the year I was awarded the LTA Sussex Players' Player of the Year Award and the Sussex Sports Award for Disabled Sports Personality of the Year. By now my trophy cabinet was becoming quite full!
Into 2012 and a busy year ahead. I now have my sights set firmly on the upcoming Paralympic Games in London and hope to represent Great Britain. All this just three years on from my injury.
You can follow Lauren’s progress on Twitter, ‘10Jonesy’, and her Facebook page, ‘Lauren Jones Wheelchair Tennis’.