TENNIS dad David Flinn has paid tribute to the support given by local club Holcombe Brook to his daughter Natalie after she won two big tournaments in America.

The 12-year-old, who has trained under coach Simon Roberts at Holcombe Brook for the past year, claimed a brace of titles during a busman’s holiday in Florida during half term.

She won the Lake Cane Under-13s Championships in Orlando, breezing through the final 6-0, 6-1 before stepping up an age group to take the u15s trophy at the Sanlando Park Championships in Altamonte Springs.

And Flinn put his daughter’s stunning performances, many of which were against youngsters from the renowned Nick Bollettieri Academy (now IMG), down to the help she has been given back in Bury.

“Holcombe Brook have been excellent with her,” he said.

“They have made her feel so welcome. I would say her improvement has not just been down to the training she has been given but also the mental support as well, which certainly came in handy over in America.”

As well as honing her skills at Holcombe Brook, Natalie, who lives in Stoneclough, is a member of the region’s high performance centre at Bolton Arena and has represented both Lancashire and the North of England in a number of competitions.

She is also registered with the USTA following a previous visit to America and took the opportunity to pit her wits against some of the world’s up and coming talent.

“Despite only having one day to acclimatise, Natalie gradually made her way through the rounds of her first competition, beating girls from the USA, Dominican Republic and Russia before playing well to beat another local American girl in front of a partisan crowd in the final,” said David.

“She then had a couple of local training sessions through the week before taking part in her second competition in Altamonte Springs, where she was entered in the ‘Girls 14s’ category as we felt this would give her stiffer competition.

“This proved to be the case as not only were all the girls older, but there were many players from the famous Bollitieri academy near Tampa scattered across all the age groups.

“Judging by their behaviour, they had entered en-masse with the view of cleaning up all the titles available.

“But this didn’t faze Natalie. She beat an American, an Italian and the number two seed from China in the semi-final.

“In the final she faced a Russian girl who had significant and quite intimidating support from her academy pals and who was openly hostile towards Natalie – using foul language and bad sportsmanship.

“But Natalie remained very calm and eventually ran out a 6-0, 6-2 winner.

“The whole event was a good learning experience, not just the tennis, which at times was the best I have ever seen her play, but also the mental qualities needed in difficult conditions.”