Smashing youngster Joel makes his mark at international competition in Paris

Berkhamsted's Joel Pierleoni finished second in the Le Pousess Jeunes National tournament in Paris
Berkhamsted's Joel Pierleoni finished second in the Le Pousess Jeunes National tournament in Paris

A young ace from Berkhamsted Elite Tennis Academy confirmed his status as a rising star as he finished runner-up in the prestigious Le Pousess Jeunes National tournament in Paris.

Joel Pierleoni, 10, travelled France as part of the U11 British team to play a friendly match against the French team before taking part in the singles tournament.

Team GB was made up of the top-four players in the country born in 2003, with Joel playing number 1 for the Brits.

On day one of the team event, Joel was drawn against the second-ranked French player. He got off to shaky start in the match, losing the first set before coming back to even up the contest.

However, the French youngster was able to use his experience of the conditions and close out the match in the third set.

The next day Joel had to come back and perform against the top-ranked 11-year-old in France. After settling into the conditions, Joel hit top form to win the match 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

“The French players have such a different game,” said Joel. “It was a great experience to be able to compare yourself to foreign players because when you play English players you are not quite sure what level you are in the world. “

Unfortunately, though, Team GB wasn’t strong enough to topple the young Frenchmen and lost the tie 8-4.

There was little time to rest, however, as Joel was quickly back to action in the singles tournament.

He comfortably made his way through the early rounds before again coming up against the top-ranked French player.

This turned into another three-set battle with the same result – Joel winning and booking his pace in the semi-final.

Another comfortable win followed and Joel was into the final against Clovis Benichou from Paris – the second-ranked 11-year-old in France.

After another epic battle between the two young boys, Joel was piped to the first place trophy as he went down 6-1, 4-6, 6-7 (8-10).

“It was a tough final against a very consistent opponent,” said Joel. “What I’ve learned most about my matches in Paris is to stay tough, battle it out, fight for every point and never give up.

“I wasn’t expecting to be called up for Great Britain and it was an amazing experience which has inspired me to work harder and keep improving so that I can be considered again for these events.”

Joel will be back in international action over Easter when he travels to Portugal to play in his first U12 Tennis Europe event.