A TEENAGER is honing her skills with the hope of joining the national 10 pin bowling squad next year.
Hannah Willoughby already has a string of successes under her belt but is working hard to be selected for the under 18s team and realise her dream of competing across the world.
The 14-year-old, from Church Road in Wittering, has had support from her family as well as members of the 1st Wittering Guides who have raised money to help pay for equipment.
She said: “Bowling is a really good team game to get involved in. It’s good fun and there are lots of good competitions to go to.”
Her successes in a Cambridgeshire league earned Hannah a place at the NAYBC 10 Pin Bowling Academy in Sheffield which she visits five times a year for specialist training. Top coaches also recruit members for the national teams there.
Players who are selected for the academy have to keep diaries of their bowling and have to pass exams to continue into the next year.
Hannah, who attends Arthur Mellows Village College in Glinton, gained 91.2 per cent in her first year exams.
She said: “The academy is a great place to learn because it has some really good coaches. I was so happy to be invited to join because it is the only official bowling school of that level in the country.
“I would love to bowl for the international squad and represent England around the world.
“Hopefully with the support of the academy that will be realistic.”
An international performance would be a long way from Hannah’s first bowling experience at RAF Wittering with her father Glenn and brother Joe eight years ago.
Glenn says she took to it like a duck to water and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Her highest score in a single game is 233 and her highest score over three games is 637.
Glenn said: “The coaches aren’t just looking at scores but also at the bowlers’ attitudes, sportsmanship and even dress code.
“They are looking for ambassadors for the sport.”
It can be an expensive hobby with bowlers needing up to six balls, costing anywhere between £100 and £400 each.
Glenn and his wife Michelle pay for Hannah’s competitions and her guide group’s efforts have helped her to buy equipment. The 1st Wittering Guides raised £140 at a table-top sale which they gave to Hannah. She said: “I was so grateful when the guides gave me the money. It means so much that they want to support my bowling.”
Hannah currently practises for six hours a week which she hopes she will be enough to make it into the England under 18s team next year.