You might have heard of Aidan McHugh. He’s tipped as one of the UK’s rising tennis stars. However, what you might not know is that between training, travelling and tournaments, he swaps his tennis whites for the Green Blazer.
“My main thing is tennis!” is the first thing Aidan tells us. “But I understand the importance of a good education and I do my best to find a balance between the two. Playing all over Europe for U18s that can be difficult, for sure, but I am so lucky to be at a school that encourages me in achieving my dreams.”
Formation of the whole person is central to Jesuit education, and as such the school focuses on the fullest possible development of each pupil’s individual talents. St Aloysius’ encourages pupils to discover the Magis, to seek to be more, to do more, which is why the school invests so much in its pupils with talent outside the traditional classroom.
“I think because the school encourages you to make the most of your talents its easier for me to dedicate time to my tennis,” says Aidan. “But I understand the importance of doing well at school, the teachers support me but don’t let me forget that education is important too.”
Aidan was crowned the British U14 No.1 in summer 2014 and has since been making the move up the age categories to compete in U16 and even U18 tournaments. However, with such a demanding schedule, how do the teachers feel about him being away from school so much?
“The school is so supportive of my tennis,” he explains. “The teachers realise what it means to me and they help me fit my school work in around my training rather than the other way around.
“A lot of other kids that I meet through my tennis find they have to stop their lessons as they simply can’t keep up and do both, so they suffer. My teachers help make things easy for me. I can be away a lot, but they make sure that I’m able to catch up with the work that I miss, everyone is so helpful.”
What you won’t see from Aidan’s photographs is that he entertained us all morning with his tennis tricks. He hesitated for a moment when asked to aim a serve at the camera – but it didn’t take long for him to launch one straight down the lens! His talent is clear to see, as well as his ambition – but so is his humility, even when he talks about the future.
“The next step for me is playing in the Junior Wimbledon tournament,” he tells us. “That is my goal at the moment, with the dream of one day playing in – and hopefully winning – Wimbledon. Who knows if I’ll achieve that dream but I’m having a great time trying and I’ll always be grateful to have a school and family that supports me in that.”