BLACK belt Ryan Peniston showed his fighting spirit to shock Holger Rune in Eastbourne yesterday.

Great Wakering’s Peniston - who takes on Spaniard Pedro Martinez this afternoon - fought back to beat the number eight seed in three sets.

And the 26-year-old is certain his background in martial arts has helped him to succeed in tennis.

“I’m a black belt in martial arts called Tang Sou Dao and it has helped me massively,” said Peniston.

“It’s helped me hugely with my flexibility, discipline and respect as well.

"You learn a lot of lessons but it was a lot of fun and all my family practise it.

“I started when I was four or five and did it all the time until I was about 13.

"I used to go just down the road at the Great Wakering Sports Centre to do it and also went to Clements Hall twice a week so I do think it’s been a big help.”

Echo: Another big win - for Ryan Peniston Another big win - for Ryan Peniston

Peniston has shown fighting spirit throughout his life after being diagnosed at the age of one with rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer.

The former Southend High School pupil required surgery and chemotherapy to regain full fitness and health.

But the treatment stunted Peniston’s growth and meant he could not rely on pure power to win his matches.

“I was really small and about a foot smaller than all my peers until the age of about 15,” said Peniston.

“I started growing after that but because I was a lot smaller I had to rely on other skills to win matches.

“It was about running, about reading the game better or anticipating things and it’s definitely helped me now.”

Echo: Experts - Ryan is a first duan black belt, brother Harry second duan and eldest brother Sam and dad Paul are both fifth duansExperts - Ryan is a first duan black belt, brother Harry second duan and eldest brother Sam and dad Paul are both fifth duans


Those skills - which have since been honed and built upon - helped Peniston reach the quarter-finals of Queen’s last week and also led to him shocking number eight seed Rune yesterday.

After losing the first set 6-4, Peniston won the second on a tie-break and the third 6-1. And he was delighted with yet another eye-catching victory.

“I’m really excited and happy,” said Peniston.

“To back up a couple of wins I had last week feels really good.

“Holger’s a man in form and he did well at the French Open but I’m happy with how I fought after losing the first set and it was good to pull through in the end.”

The victory continued Peniston’s fine run on grass, a surface he became accustomed to at a very young age. Peniston trained at Southchurch Park on grass as a youngster before heading elsewhere in Essex for his first tournament.

“I’m pretty sure Frinton was my first grass tournament,” said Peniston.

“I played at an under 10s tournament there when I was eight years old.

“It was a lot of fun and I’ve always enjoyed playing on grass.”


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