Step-by-step approach paying dividends for Moloney

A sensible step-by-step approach is already paying dividends for young county enthusiast Matthew Moloney who is quickly making an impression across a wider circuit.

The nine-year-old is currently ranked seventh of 115 players on the regional leaderboard in his first orange season for Grade 3 events. He is also to attend the last of four regional camp squad training days at the Gosling Tennis Centre in March, having already tackled three at Batchwood School in Hertfordshire.

Sixteen youngsters currently take part in the regional training days, all sourced from Talent ID days and Northants’ coaches are proud of the fact two of its most progressive juniors are currently linked in to the squad, with Jakob Bonnett from Oundle also in attendance.

In addition to these sessions, Sywell lad Moloney, who attends Isham School, has lessons with his individual coach Steve Biss as well as mixing in with weekly squad groups at King’s Park and Corby and also playing at his home club County LTC in Weston Favell.

Such time commitment to the cause can only be fulfilled and maintained by strong unity linking parents and school alike, combining with a natural flair and drive from the player himself.

Luckily, you might almost say, all these pieces of the jigsaw appear to be in place with Moloney’s father Gerard saying: “Isham School and its head mistress Kirsten Howarth have been incredibly supportive.”

The swift progress of the player becomes all the more eye catching when you realise he only took up the sport at the age of six and a half, initially at Kettering Tennis Club as the family were living in Orlingbury at the time.

Moloney senior added: “Matthew had his first squad session at County in March 2012 and his first individual lesson with Steve in the August.”

After playing his first competitive tournament at Dallington in October, the player went to Northampton LTC the following month where he won a red event.

Now he has reached a total of five Grade 3 finals for his age across the region, the first at Edgbaston in August last year which was swiftly followed by an appearance in the Leicestershire Open 11 days later.

Though he has yet to win a final (also managing a third, fourth place and several fifths at Grade 3 level) there is no doubt he is knocking on the door.

Only last weekend he contested and won a Grade 4 LTA Tour Orange event in Derby where he defeated one of his regional squad team mates Ganesh Mullaparthi 7-1, 10-8 in the final. The result now means he has qualified for a Grade 3 event in Lancashire, although a Shrewsbury event remains an option.

His father says: “The standard is incredibly tough. At Nottingham, Matthew played a lad from that county called Phoenix Weir and beat him in the box section in two sets.”

However, Moloney had given his all to get to the final where he faced Weir again, who this time was able to exact revenge. A subsequent final meeting with Weir three weeks ago brought a 9-7, 7-5 loss in a match described as ‘a beast of a game!’

Now the intense focus is on improving stroke play and technique with the realisation that significant progress can only be maintained if all of these pieces of the armoury are in place.

Coach Biss says: “Luckily Matthew has always been very good at taking on board advice and putting it into practise.