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From escaping war-torn Sierra Leone to inspiring others

MATCH FIT: Sam Jalloh has released a book, How Tennis Saved My Life, and is touring the country doing book signings

DESPITE ALMOST losing his life in his native war-torn Sierra Leone, tennis coach Sam Jalloh is determined to assist aspiring players.

Having survived the most challenging of circumstances, he told the Voice of Sport about his journey thus far, his foundation and his new book How Tennis Saved My Life.

With some good fortune, Jalloh might have been playing Wimbledon this week.

It was obvious that he had talent from a very early age. However, his adopted father told him that he should forget tennis, as it was a sport just for “rich white people”, and wanted him to become a doctor.

Jalloh’s first game of tennis was played with his hands, as they didn’t have rackets in Sierra Leone.

He has moved on hugely since then, as he looks to inspire future generations. He has heaped fulsome praise on the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) who have been a huge inspiration for him; he says that without their contribution, none of his bright future would be possible.

He said: “The LTA system is the best in the world, every English player that comes through is very clean, very good technically, and that is down to the system of coaching that really is the best.

SURVIVOR: Jalloh in action on the tennis court

“I have tried to emulate the system that the LTA employ in my own work, and it is that style of teaching that I use when travelling around the world: it works.

“I’m often the nice coach and the kids love it, as I use the LTA approach. I’m not as strict as their normal African coaches.”

The LTA also directly helps Jalloh’s foundation, the Anglo-African Sports Education Trust, which he set up with Max Thompson, son of Liverpool legend Phil. The LTA helps by providing kit, equipment and uniforms for him and he donates these to underprivileged kids. “They have really been a big influence on the foundation.”

Jalloh succeeded through all the hardships and is now a successful author, with his debut book released earlier in the year.

He is touring the country doing book signings. One of these will be at Wimbledon, and he says he is relishing the experience.

“I have been to Wimbledon many times, but never on business, I’m looking forward to meeting some other authors, too, to share ideas.”

If you would like to meet Sam Jalloh, he will be signing copies of his book on Monday, July 8 at the PTR Conference in Wimbledon.

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