18-year-old Alexander Marshall-Wilson from Deganwy, who is studying on the Level 3 Sport (Coaching, Development and Fitness) course at the college’s Rhos-on-Sea campus, excelled in both of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) competitions, which were held at the Bolton Arena in Lancashire.
But tennis was not originally his first passion. Alex initially got into wheelchair basketball in 2014 through his physiotherapist who was in contact with the Disability Sport Officer for Conwy county, Mark Richards. Mark is also the coach of Conwy Thunder - one of only four wheelchair basketball clubs in North Wales – and provided Alex with a range of parasports to try out. He eventually chose wheelchair basketball.
Alex has represented both Wales and Great Britain at junior level, and now has a role coaching back at Conwy Thunder. After being founded in 1956, wheelchair basketball has grown to become the most popular accessible sport for wheelchair users.
Two years later in 2016, Alex was watching Wimbledon with the rest of his family and noticed wheelchair tennis for the first time. But, it wasn't until after the 2021 Wimbledon tournament that he heard about the Lawn Tennis Association having taster day events for wheelchair tennis around the UK. He immediately booked himself onto the nearest one, in Colwyn Bay.
Having acquired many skills and physical attributes from his years playing basketball, tennis was ‘relatively easy’ for him to pick up. Not long after, he joined a bespoke development programme and set his sights on competing on the professional stage.
Alex trains at Coleg Llandrillo’s Institute of Sport four or five days a week, dependant on whether he has any competitions/league matches the following weekend.
He said: “I am delighted with recent results. Having support from the college’s strength and conditioning coaches helps me to raise my game and improve my performance even further by having the potential to be fitter than any other opponent or teammate. It helps me to carry on that high level of performance for a longer period of time.
“My advice to students joining college this year is to pick a course that you really enjoy, work hard and have fun. My tutors have been instrumental in helping me to attain new skills and I am now looking forward to studying Sport Psychology at the University of Worcester. I have also met new friends who have really helped me to settle in as a student, and not just a student with a disability.”
His goals within wheelchair tennis are to play some of the best players in the world, reach the professional stage within the next year, and potentially compete at the four majors. Regarding wheelchair basketball, he would also like to reach professional status and represent GB as a senior athlete. His long-term goal is to reach the Paralympics and win a medal - “ideally Gold” - but to reach the Paralympics in either sport is his target.
For more information about any sports courses, or places in any of the college’s sporting
academies across Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, call the college’s Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.