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PERSONAL

Name: Ilya Kneppelhout

Age: 19 years old

Date of birth: 19 March 1997

Born in: Amsterdam

Lives in: Woubrugge, Netherlands

Nationality: Dutch

School: Bilingual grammar

Scala College, Alphen a/d Rijn

MEMBER OF

TEAN (Alphen a/d Rijn)

TV Woubrugge

BEST RESULTS

U16 Regional Champion
North-West Netherlands, June 2013

U16 District Champion
Leiden District, June 2013

Master's title Leiden district
September 2012

Two titles in one tournament
Categories 4 and 5, June 2012

Winner doubles Tennis Europe
Amstelpark, July 2011

Quarter finals Tennis Europe
Frogner, Oslo, June 2011

Winner Nike Junior Tour
Qualification Bergen op Zoom, 2011

Winner junior ranking tournament
K3 TEAN, July 2010

In national top-20 since I was 11

WHEN I'M NOT ON THE COURTS…

… I enjoy listening to music
… I like to play football with friends

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About me

When I was young my mother sometimes took me along when she went for a game of tennis. I loved it – even fetching the balls was fun! I started playing myself when I was six. I joined the local tennis club in our village Woubrugge and had my first tennis lesson when I was seven. At the time, I had one lesson a week. A year later my trainer, Marco Smit, signed me up for the Junior District Tennis Championships, where I came second in the 8 years & under event. That was when the Dutch Lawn Tennis Association, KNLTB, came into the picture. I had the privilege of being invited to join the KNLTB's training programme and took part in this scheme until I was 12 years old.

Ilya at the age of sevenI'm now on the courts six days a week. I train with Dutch Tennis Academy. It's a pretty busy schedule, but I love it and I'm happy to give it my all! I would like to train even more, but school is important too. During the seven-week national senior tennis league in the summer I play for TEAN, a tennis club in Alphen aan den Rijn.

I live in Woubrugge with my parents and go to Scala College in Alphen a/d Rijn, where I'm following a bilingual English-Dutch curriculum. I chose to do this because many of my relatives live abroad and don't speak Dutch. I like it, but it's a lot of hard work. My school has a special 'top sports talent' status, which means I'm allowed to train and play tournaments during school time. This helps me find a balance between my tennis commitments and school.

Tennis is my passion and what I like doing most, but I also enjoy playing football with friends and listening to music. If I don't have to play a tournament during the school holidays in winter, you'll find me on the ski slopes in Austria, where my father comes from. In the summer we usually go to Greece. I spend my time sailing the catamaran with my father and playing beach tennis. We also try to visit my half-brother and his wife as often as we can. They live on Curaçao with their little son and daughter.

Since I began playing tournaments for the national ranking in the Netherlands, I've always ranked in the top 20 of my year of birth (1997) – my best position was number 13. My short-term goal is to enter the top 10. Other goals are to become physically stronger and to improve my tactical skills. Playing a lot of matches and training hard are important here. My biggest dream is to become a professional tennis player and to win a grand slam – preferably Roland Garros!

I've already been abroad for a number of tennis trips – a training week with Eric Pietersz in Barcelona and several Tennis Europe junior tournaments. I scored my first points in an international tournament in Denmark in May 2011 and a few weeks later I reached the quarter finals in Oslo, Norway (boys up to 14). On home ground, I won the doubles of the Tennis Europe tournament at Amstelpark, Amsterdam with my former training mate Hidde Sels. It's very special to have the opportunity to play at an international level – plus which, it's really cool to meet boys and girls from other countries.

Ilya