Article first published in 2016. Updated June 2019
Paul is like any other normal 16-year-old. He speaks quietly, often in short mumbles as he stands bent over his mobile phone, his fingers dancing over the screen driving out messages to friends. This is his downtime, his connection to the world off court, where his time is short.
Because Paul isn’t like other 16-year-olds. He has something else, something more. He has talent. And it didn’t go unnoticed long. At the age of four, playing tennis with the other kids at Pelican Park near his home in Hull, tennis coach Jonny Carmichael noticed it first.
“You could tell he was going to be good. He already moved around the court like a pro,” says Jonny.
Twelve years later, Jonny is still fostering that talent. The pair spend hours on the courts at the Nuffield Health Tennis Academy grinding away, putting in the hard yards ahead of Paul’s next big competition, because talent isn’t enough.
“It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment. You’ve got to be willing to give up some of your social life or your friends,” says Paul.
It’s paid off. Paul is the 3rd seed U16 player in the UK. He won the British Nationals in 2015 and an International Tennis Federation slam in Qatar this year. But he has his sights set on greater things.
“My main aim now is to build up my junior world ranking… and hopefully build up into the men’s game.”
Despite his success, Paul remains humble and is quick to ensure the credit is shared with his support team at Nuffield Health.
"They do the hard work, I just do the easy work," he says.
“Jonny has always had faith in me. He’s paid out of his own pocket to send me to competitions in the past. The whole team at the Nuffield Health Tennis Academy and my fitness coach, Aaron in the gym have been amazing, I can’t thank them enough.”
“My ultimate goal would be to win a Grand Slam, that’s any tennis player’s dream. That’ll be the way I know I’ve got to be the best I can be.”
Three years on and Paul's tennis career has reached new heights. In 2019, Wimbledon has awarded him a wildcard to the tournament. It was his first appearance at a grand slam event.
Last updated Tuesday 5 May 2020
First published on Wednesday 6 July 2016