The head of racquets at Edgbaston Priory Club, Leyla Ogan, is on a mission to get more girls and women into tennis – and find the ultimate ‘adrenaline junkie’ sporting challenge
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
My mum threw me into all sports but my passion for tennis came from my grandparents who played at Moseley Tennis Club. I eventually played on the professional circuit from age 16 to 20 and got to travel the world. I was diagnosed with skin cancer at 20 which made me appreciate tennis even more once I was fully recovered. I got into coaching while continuing to represent Team GB. I’m now head of racquets at Edgbaston Priory Club, home to the Rothesay Classic which brings the world’s best female tennis players to the city every summer.
IT’S WHAT I DO
I am responsible for everything tennis at Edgbaston Priory Club, from grassroots community programmes in parks and schools to club tennis and our high-performance programme, nurturing future professionals. I am also an ambassador for She Rallies, a campaign spearheaded by Judy Murray to get more women into tennis. Tennis is a game for everyone – our members join the club, learn to play, fine-tune their skills, get fit and make friendships for life. We’re also developing new racquets sports such as Pickleball and Padel Tennis.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
More people across our city playing tennis all year round – not just during Wimbledon! I’d like to see more competitive sport return to schools – it plays such a big role in making young people understand the importance of teamwork and building up resilience when things don’t always go as planned. I’d like to see the Birmingham Classic, featuring the world’s best female players, given the same primetime coverage as the men’s tournament at Queen’s Club in London. We need more girls in sport, more women in decision-making roles in sport, more women as role models. It’s so important for young girls – if you can see them you can be them!
When I was ranked World No 1 in Collegiate Tennis after recovery from skin cancer… oh, and getting up on a surfboard in Australia, too!
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
Everyone has their own journey through life, learn to love yours – the highs and lows, the winning and losing moments. The biggest piece of advice I would pass on to young players is to listen to your body conditioning coaches, nutritionists and physiotherapists. Look after the body and mind off the court – it’s as important as what happens on court.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
Great restaurants, night life and a good city vibe, plus excellent transport links – and great sport on offer, of course! It’s going to be an exciting summer as we host the Commonwealth Games which will really put our city on the global sporting map. My favourite night out has to be a beer and burger in the Plough, Harborne or a good show at the Hippodrome!
I still enjoy playing, competing and seeing friends I made through sport. You just can’t beat enjoying a beer with mates after a match. I also love being outdoors and am a BIG adrenaline junkie. There aren’t many adrenaline sports I haven’t tried, so if anyone has a new one for me to have a go at, send it my way!