LONDON SEVENS, FINAL ROUND OF THE HSBC SEVENS WORLD SERIES
England Sevens players John Brake and Mat Turner were joined today by fellow HSBC Sevens World Series challengers and fierce rivals France in the shape of Jean Baptiste Belanger and Paul Albaladejo, to enjoy an exclusive tennis lesson from former British junior number one Hannah Collin at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon.
The home of tennis in England, the famous courts at SW19 provided the backdrop for the England and France rugby sevens adversaries to size each other up ahead of the Marriott London Sevens this weekend at Twickenham where they will come up against each other in pool B.
Hannah Collin, a coach at the All-England Club and a former junior British number one who was ranked in the world’s top 250 and played four times at the Wimbledon Grand Slam Championship took the players through the basics of serving and a demonstration before setting the players a competitive challenge.
Following the lesson from their instructor the England-France rivalry was played out in a competition to see who could serve the most accurately, attempting to hit a ball tin in the corner of the service court.
The AELTC at Wimbledon is a quintessentially English sporting venue and the oldest tennis tournament in the world so for Jean Baptiste and Paul from France Sevens to claim the number one spot and end up victorious at the end of the match was a bitter pill to swallow for the England players.
John Brake, England Sevens scrum-half commented: “It was great to come to Wimbledon on our day off. We tried to hit the tennis ball case but unfortunately we weren’t able to and we let the French win this time. We had to let them win something this week as come the weekend on the pitch at Twickenham we will try and make sure we get the right result.”
Paul Albaladejo from France sevens added: “Sometimes we train with tennis balls to help us with some of the core catching and passing drills for rugby sevens and I have played a bit of tennis when I was growing up. We enjoyed coming here today to the famous Wimbledon Centre Court and beating the English. We are looking forward to the tournament this weekend and finishing the series well.”
Hannah Collin from the AELTC said: “They were all pretty good, you could tell they had played before and knew how to hold a racquet! I showed them a few hidden secrets about serving and then set them a challenge of hitting a ball case in the opposite serving box. They were close most of the time, but I know Paul managed to actually hit it once.”