by Reece Chambers
For this week’s ‘Getting to Know’ segment, our Head of Sport, Reece Chambers, sat down with Rebecca Astill of Ladies’ Tennis to discuss her involvement in the club, how she got involved, and much more.
Like many student athletes, Astill became involved in the club through a Give it a Go session in her first year.
“I turned up to the tennis Give it a Go session in my first year and the captain at the time asked me to come along to trials which were on the following Sunday. I wasn’t expecting to get onto the team – but here I am in third year, playing for the team,” said Astill.
Having played tennis for the majority of her life, the Tennis club’s Welfare Officer recalls her earliest memory on the court.
“My mum took me and my brother along to a coaching session on a Saturday morning at a club which she had been recommended by a friend. She wanted us to play a sport which we could always play together – which also had a good mix of boys and girls so we could make our own friends. I don’t think I even hit a ball in my first session, but I like to think I’ve improved slightly 14 years later.”
With tennis becoming an important part of her university experience, the third year Journalism and English Literature student is still reveling in the success of Welsh Varsity 2018 against a familiar face.
“My personal highlight was my first year Varsity match against Swansea – I played my doubles partner from home and beat her in a match tiebreak. I hate playing my friends and it was nerve-wracking but so many people were supporting so I felt the love.”
But, as with most sports at university, it takes a large amount of commitment to balance studies, training and matches. For Astill, balancing the time is possible and she’s even willing to switch to a 9am seminar.
“All of our training sessions are in the evenings so I make sure I work hard during the day times. If I can, I move seminars to 9am so I have less chance of missing them.”
One of the main advantages of playing in a sports team, as most student athletes outline, is the opportunity to make a network of friends whilst playing a sport they love. Astill echoed those sentiments.
“Playing sport regularly always makes me feel happier, and it helps that I get to see my friends 3 times a week at training and matches… I’ve met some of my closest friends through the club – both team and social members.”
When given the choice of winning Varsity or the BUCS League, Astill immediately chose Varsity, noting the amazing atmosphere every year.
“I’d rather beat Swansea at Varsity. We won our league and beat Swansea last year so didn’t have to choose. But the atmosphere at Varsity is always amazing – people who aren’t even involved in the tennis club come down to support and it’s great to win in front of your university. It’s the biggest feeling of community spirit.”
Now in her final year of study at Cardiff University, Astill has the luxury of looking back on her university experience. Although she joined the club in first year, she wishes she had been more confident from the beginning of her university journey.
“My advice to my fresher self would be to have some more confidence. No one notices the age gap between different years at uni in the same way as people did at school. Speak up more and make more of an effort to get to know the social side of the club.”
As former Social Secretary in her second year, Astill certainly knows about the benefits of getting to grips with the social side of a sports club and encourages more people to do so.