NOT SO PUSHY ...
Richard Eaton reports
Jenny Wallwork used to suffer from the opposite of the pushy
parent syndrome. Her parents were so determined to ensure that
excessive pressure was not placed upon her that “if anything I
always wanted mine to be more pushy,” she claims.
“When I was younger I was always training, training, training,
and they were like: “Are you sure you are not doing too much?”
It used to drive me mad!”
Wallwork nevertheless counts herself extremely lucky to have had
such a supportive mum and dad, Jill and Brian - both of whom
played for England, but whose achievements she may be about to
After a year in which she has increased her experience of
international play, she has now become favourite to win two
nationals titles, the women's and mixed doubles.
Both her partnerships, with Gabby White and with Nathan
Robertson, have started to develop. “Nothing clicks straight
away,” Wallwork said. “As a partnership there are a lot of
things you have to do to get you firing.
“People sometimes think that because Nathan has done so well, we
will automatically be a good pair. But it's difficult at the
beginning. We have worked very hard, and it's looking up now,
and it's coming together. I'm happy with it.”
She and White are aggressive, attacking players, and they have
been working on their defence - how to combine better in the
side-to-side formations and how to cope with shots down the
With her and Robertson it has been more a case of learning to
move around each other more intuitively, to create a more fluid
change from defence into attack and, if necessary, back again.
Some say that she and White are strong favourites in the women's
doubles, but Wallwork long ago learned to avoid the pressure
which comes from agreeing with a suggestion like that.
”Heather (Olver) and Mariana (Agathangelou) are a very good
pair,” she said, which, even if Mariana is her best friend,
still came across as an objective remark.
“They have only recently started playing together, but they are
good. English against English often makes quite scrappy games,
but I would like to think that me and Gabby have a bit more
experience now. We'd like to get in there and beat them.”
Wallwork was similarly careful with how she fielded questions
about her partnership with Robertson. Was the perception that
she had at first found him very talented but not easy to play
with, really true?.
“He's, yes, very talented,” she answered. “It's brilliant to be
able to play with someone with so much experience. He definitely
helps me a lot. I'm much more able to play my best with someone
who has knowledge. I have quality training sessions with someone
who helps you know what to do.”
So did he tell her what to do very much? “Recently I have been
able to speak to him a lot more,” she countered. “It was
difficult at first and I put a lot of pressure on myself, and
started to play a totally different game to what I normally do,
and played much worse.
“But in the last few months my game has come together and I am
very confident, and I know he is as well. It's something you
It was good to have a “mental edge” over Clark and Olver by
having beaten them in Malaysia, she acknowledged, but pointed
out that this happened in their opponents' first tournament
together. She still thought these two could be their closest
But there was no way she would consider the possibility of
winning two titles. “Obviously it's brilliant if you can live up
to the seedings and win both events,” Wallwork replied expertly.
“But we'll have to take it as it comes and hopefully play as
well as we can.”
If Wallwork does that, it's a good bet on her becoming an
English national champion for the first time.