Maltese 14-year-old tennis champion retains top spot in world ranking

Helene Pellicano becomes the first Maltese tennis player to win the junior European championship

Maltese tennis player Helene Pellicano, 14
Maltese tennis player Helene Pellicano, 14

It started as a hobby at just four years of age but today, 14-year-old Helene Pellicano, is a world-famous tennis player after securing the title in the European Junior Championships and retaining her top spot in the world ranking for six months.

“My dream is to win the Wimbledon,” the shy tennis player told MaltaToday, minutes after meeting Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at Auberge de Castille.

Pellicano’s love for sports started at a very young age. Both her parents, Robert and Elaine Pellicano, used to play basketball with Hibernians. Pellicano is the first Maltese player ever to win the European Junior Championships, when she won the match in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

“I couldn’t really believe it … I was so happy and amazed … I can’t really describe it,” she said, of the moment she realized she had won the championship.

Last October, Pellicano became the first Maltese player ever to win a Tennis Europe Junior Masters title, and earlier this year became the first to reach the Tennis Europe Junior Tour’s number 1 ranking.

At age 10, Pellicano decided she wanted to become a professional tennis player and, at 11, found her opportunity.

Coached by Fabio Lavazza, Pellicano and her mother relocated to San Remo, Italy, where she trains for five hours every day from Monday to Friday and two hours on Saturday. She goes to school every day for three hours and takes English and Mathematics lessons through Skype with a Maltese teacher.

Her word of advice for ambitious young player is to never stop believing: “You have to fight hard and giving up is not an option. Make your dream come true.”

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