St Leonards ace continues international adventure
When Suzy Larkin announced that she was going off to join the ITF Professional Women's Tennis Tour, her parents thought she would be back home in St Leonards within a month.
Now a year has passed and, apart from a short visit home over Christmas, Larkin is still competing abroad.
She started out in Sardinia, and has since played in Turkey, Egypt, France and Portugal, and for the last two months Larkin has been playing in China.
After this week, she plans to go to South Korea for two tournaments, then back to China for a run of events.
Larkin recently came through three qualifying rounds of a $60,000 tournament to reach the main draw before narrowly lost to a Serbian player with a world ranking of 282.
Larkin, who will turn 25 at the end of next week, started her overseas adventure with no world ranking, but has risen to number 629 and number 16 in Great Britain.
She travels alone, has no coach, and survives by using cheap accommodation, sometimes sharing rooms with several other players.
Larkin gets a lot of support from The Green Lawn Tennis Club members, who keep in touch through social media.
Her progress has come despite not playing competitive tennis since her junior days, a period of some nine years.
After spending two years at the Equalite Tennis Academy in Spain at the start of her teenage years, she decided to return home to complete her education (there was none at the tennis academy).
Having condensed her GCSEs into a single year at Helenswood Academy, Larkin achieved her A Levels at Buckswood School and went on to gain a 2:1 degree in mathematics at Oxford Brookes University in 2015.
During her three years at university, however, she suffered a serious foot injury which prevented her from playing any competitive sport for some 18 months.