William Flynn has type 1 diabetes, but he won’t let it stop him winning prestigious real tennis competitions.
That’s the vow from the 13-year-old Seacourt starlet who was diagnosed with the condition in October, only to claim National Under-18 Handicap Singles honours just before Christmas.
It is an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact Flynn was forced to spend a night at Queen Alexandra Hospital (QA) – when his blood sugar levels were found to be off the scale – and prevented him from playing sport for four weeks.
He said: ‘I started feeling a bit tired in the last couple of weeks before half-term and getting up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night a few times.
‘I was drinking a lot more water than before, which was unusual for me.
‘I Googled the symptoms and asked my mum if I had diabetes, who thought “No, I would be fine”.
‘We left it a few days but then called up the doctor to take a look at me and check how I was.
‘She wanted to test how my blood suger levels were but the readings were too high to show on the meter.
‘We had to go straight to hospital.
‘There they tested my blood pressure and blood sugar, which is meant to be between four and seven on the scale. Mine was 28.7 – very high!
‘They told me three hours later it was diabetes and I had to stay the night.
‘By the next morning I was doing my own blood sugar checks and injections.
‘I thought I would just man up and do it, because I am going to have it for life now – I need to just get on with it.’
Flynn, who has received great support from the diabetes unit at QA since his diagnosis, was not about to feel sorry for himself.
And that was best evidenced by this month’s triumphant return to action as he battled both tiredness and older opponents to claim national honours with a thrilling 8-5 A Grade final win over Petworth teenager Gus James.
The Tennis and Rackets Association (T&RA) tournament proved to be one to remember for host club Seacourt, with 11-year-old Ollie Jameson also winning in the B Grade competition.
‘I was quite nervous because it was the most sport I had done in about three months,’ said Flynn.
‘I was surprised to win my semi-final (against club-mate George Charlton) because I was quite exhausted after my morning matches, having beaten two 17-year-old opponents.
‘Before the final, I just went and sat down on a sofa and my mum was trying to give me insulin and bananas!
‘I got my energy back, although my nerves remained in the final.
‘The game was very compeititve and I was getting worried towards the end of the match because I was feeling tired and wondered if I could carry on.
‘My game play dipped but I kept on going and with the last two points I managed to hit the grill at the back of the court to win it in style – I was happy with that!
‘I may be William with type 1 diabetes – but it won’t stop me from playing real tennis like I had been doing before.’
On a day of Seacourt success, Andrew Jameson, father of Ollie, reflected on his son’s B Grade triumph.
He said: ‘It is a handicap tournament, so must be kept in perspective, but Ollie played ever so well.
‘He won through his group and got better with time, winning his final very comfortably on paper (8-1 over club-mate Edward Charlton), although in reality it was a lot closer than that.
‘For me, the best thing about the tournament was the way the children played and behaved on court.
‘They all handled themselves so well, which was great to see.’