Joanne Ginley SHE is only an eight-year-old but Naiktha Bains has flown 10,000 miles from Australia just to play tennis for her beloved Yorkshire in the county cup.
Talented Naiktha, originally from Leeds, is so desperate to play in the qualifiers of the national county cup that she flew thousands of miles from her new home.
Earlier this year Naiktha and her family left their home in Shadwell, Leeds, to emigrate to Brisbane on the east coast of Australia, motivated by the combination of excellent sporting facilities and warm weather – key elements which could help the youngest member of the family play professionally one day.
They have no plans to move back to the UK, but Naiktha's father, Gurnake, made it clear that his daughter's heart will remain in the UK when competing on court.
Gurnake, a property investor, said: "The UK is trying to keep Naiktha British for obvious reasons. I know she's only eight, but she really is that serious about tennis.
"She wants to stay British in terms of tennis, if she'll get the support."
As soon as the young star arrived in Brisbane the offers started rolling in from prospective tennis academies wanting to sign her up. She snapped up a scholarship with the prestigious Nudgee Tennis Centre where she will now be coached by Gary Stickler, the brains behind the rise of former Wimbledon champion Pat Rafter.
Last summer Naiktha won a chance to play Wimbledon winner Boris Becker and Tim Henman in Trafalgar Square after snatching the crown as best girl at the Ariel Tennis Ace event.
Lawn Tennis Association national trainer, Jackie Holden, said: "We are delighted Naiktha's able to come back for the tournament."
Naiktha will compete in qualifying this weekend and hopefully the cup finals on June 24 and 25.