By Ben Hart
Freddy Murray says swapping Ireland for Asheville can help him follow in the tennis footsteps of hero Rafael Nadal.
The Belfast ace, 19, has enrolled on a tennis programme at the University of North Carolina, where he will spend the next four years developing in a new and challenging environment.
Murray has idolised Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, for as long as he can remember and hopes his bold hop across the pond can catapult him up the international rankings.
“I'd say Nadal was my hero, especially when I was growing up,” said Murray, who benefits from financial support from Boost Drinks – a company born over 20 years ago with a vision of energising everybody in every way and is committed to supporting its local communities, whether this be fuelling them with its range of Sports, Energy, Iced Coffee, and Protein Drinks, or by getting more involved to help them achieve their goal.
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“I had the same rackets as Nadal, I bought all his clothes and I watched all his matches.
“My dream is to play in the Davis Cup for Ireland. I’d also love to be ATP-ranked and to climb the rankings as far as possible.
“I’m used to being away from home and being by myself but I've never been away from home for this long.
"But you don't really have a lot of time to sit and think by yourself – it’s just a great experience and adventure.”
SportsAid supports over 1,000 athletes each year – in the early stages of their career – by providing them with a financial award to help towards training and competition costs.
These athletes are Great Britain's brightest sporting prospects, nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports based on set criteria from each.
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Boost’s funding helped Murray to play in his first senior tournament earlier in the year, which took place in Romania during the summer.
The event featured players from inside the world's top 300 as the field battled it out for prize money and the right to be considered one of the sport's hottest prospects.
But Murray is no stranger to the big occasion, having first represented Ireland at the age of 12 and now competing against the best players on the American university circuit.
He added: “I thought America was the best option to take.
“I know a couple of people who've been here before and they all said it was great, so I just thought it was the right thing to do.
“I liked the coach, the guys in the team seemed nice and the tennis programme looked good - everything here is brilliant.”
Boost Drinks provides young athletes with financial support, recognition, and personal development opportunities through its partnership with SportsAid. Each athlete receives a £1,000 award which contributes towards costs such as travel, accommodation, and equipment – for more information visit www.boostdrinks.com