Fay Dutfield-Horton | The road to Invictus begins
In seven days time some of the world’s best wheelchair tennis players will arrive in Bath ready to fight it out for a series of ITF1 titles ahead of the year-end doubles and singles Masters later this month.
And whilst we might not be seeing her compete in Bath this year hoping to be among their ranks one day is Fay Dutfield-Horton, who began her journey into the world of the wheelchair tennis tour just last month.
Fay, who used to play tennis against the men when she was in the Royal Artillery, has her sights set on achieving one thing – representing her country in wheelchair tennis at the Invictus Games.
She said: “I’m giving myself two years to try and get into the squad.
“I want to be able to go there and not only compete but do well and it’s going to be a lot like going back into the military where the majority are men so I want to be able to compete.”
In October she went to Wrexham to compete in her first ITF Futures tournament and progressed all the way to the final, finishing as runner-up in the women’s singles to former World number 30 Busra Un, defeating a number of top seeded players on the way.
She said: “It’s pretty unbelievable – to be there on the last day, wow. I was happy with my win on day one so to be there at the end was just beyond belief.
“The last two and a half years I have been working as an empowerment coach for one of the players and during that time quite a few of the ladies, who knew I got injured in the military, said you should give this a go so I went for it.
“And because they knew I was competing this time it was almost a different kind of welcome because I wasn’t here in a working capacity I was here in a competitive one which was really lovely.”
© Gemma-Louise Stevenson
Having already competed at an ITF3 event in doubles earlier in the year alongside Andrea Weston she sort of knew what to expect.
She said: “I’d only been in a chair three times when I went there and we got through the first round, then we had to play Louise Hunt and Dana Mathewson.”
On that experience of facing two players whose doubles results this year have seen them qualify for the year end doubles Masters in a couple of weeks Fay laughed as she said: “We were on court for about an hour so that’s an achievement in itself, what great competitors to face!”
But with a few more hours on the practice court behind her after that experience Fay made her mark on the competition in Wrexham with some impressive performances against opposition ranked far higher than her.
Displays of tennis that perhaps suggest we could see her achieve her goal and be well on her road to Invictus.