Hitting 200,000 balls at 47 venues – British club player faces charity challenge

The most gruelling grand slam of them all begins in Paris on Sunday, but none of the players at the French Open will be working harder on a tennis court than Robyn Moore.

The 43-year-old club player from Hampshire is embarking on a charity challenge that will see her hit 200,000 tennis balls at 47 venues across the country during June.

The mammoth undertaking will require Moore to spend between eight and 10 hours on court each day, with her shots being recorded by the Swing app on her Apple watch.

The aim of the challenge, which is called Breakpoint 2019 and has seen Moore team up with the charity Bright Ideas for Tennis, is to raise £100,000 in order to fund free tennis lessons for people experiencing mental health problems and those with disabilities.

Moore is a walking example of the mental health benefits of exercise and tennis in particular, and Breakpoint was born out of her own experiences.

Three years ago Moore was diagnosed with an extreme form of post-traumatic stress disorder following a sexual assault and, although she still lives with the trauma every day, tennis has brought her happiness.

“I had spent a long, long time suffering flashbacks and covering an awful lot up and throwing myself into work,” Moore, a border force officer at Heathrow who has waived her right to anonymity in relation to the assault, told Press Association Sport.

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“I was working a large amount of hours and ultimately I collapsed, had a breakdown and was off work for quite some time.

“I’ve always been keen on tennis, I played as a child, and that summer I just started watching tennis because I had a lot of time off. I watched a lot of Jo Konta’s matches, she was the one that I think helped me back into it.

“I then started playing. In 2018 I had another bad spell with people at work saying some stuff that wasn’t particularly nice, which made me realise that the stigma to mental health is still very much there.

“That’s when I decided I wanted to do something to try and get people involved in a sport like tennis because it makes me feel a lot happier.

British number one Johanna Konta is supporting Robyn Moore
British number one Johanna Konta is supporting Robyn Moore (Adam Davy/PA)

“I just felt completely different when I was hitting a tennis ball. It released so much. I spend a day away from a tennis court and I want to get back out there. It’s like a drug to me.”

Moore’s challenge has attracted plenty of backing from within tennis. Tim Henman will be at the launch in Moore’s home town of Fleet on June 1 while Konta is another supporter.

The British number one said: “I was overwhelmed when reading that someone had set out to raise so much for such a worthwhile cause. I’m truly honoured to be Robyn’s inspiration and I want to personally wish her the best of luck.

“It’s so wonderfully brave of Robyn, and she is and should be our inspiration to speak out more about these matters.”

Moore admits she is apprehensive about the physical and mental challenges ahead.

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“I’m 43 so the body doesn’t recover as quickly as a person in their 20s, and mentally yes there’ll be times where I’m on court that I will be a little bit daunted,” she said.

“An hour is a long time on court, times that by eight to 10, and your head does a lot of thinking. That does scare me.

“I’ve got my psychologist on hand when I need her but this is something I so really want to do. It’s a year in the planning and it’s helped me enormously by focusing on something other than what happened to me.

“I wouldn’t change the year that I’ve just had for anything. We’re all itching to go now.”