It’s been a tough few years for brave Coleraine boy Ewan MacKerracher.
The ten year old, who will be going to Dalriada School , has been twice diagnosed with tumours in the brain.
Thankfully, back in December, little Ewan was given the all clear.
Despite two major brain surgeries aged 5 and 7, Ewan has always lived life to the full, and has found a new love for sport - particularly tennis.
Ewan’s proud mum Kerrie takes up the story, and tells how her little son has really surprised the family.
She is now encouraging other parents to get their kids involved in the sport.
“I first met Paul and Tracy of Causeway Community Tennis Club a few years ago when we were recommended that Ewan should try tennis as a form of physio exercise. “Ewan had had two major brain surgeries aged 5 and 7, to remove a brain tumour and had been attending physio after the surgery.
“As a result of these surgeries, the area of the brain that was affected, the cerebellum, this controls balance and co-ordination, so we knew that he struggled with hand to eye co-ordination and could lose balance easily which would makehim look clumsy.
“I have to admit, I was hesitant at first when the physio suggested tennis. After all, tennis is viewed as something for the elite, you need the right equipment, the right outfit - local tennis coach Paul Logan was running summer academies for kids wanting to learn tennis, so we thought this would be a good introduction to it.
“Ewan isn’t naturally sporty and was becoming more aware of the fact that he wasn’t as co-ordinated as the other kids at school, particularly playing football in the playground. He often found himself at the receiving end of jibes and taunts about how useless he was at it.
“But Ewan kept on playing, determined not to be left out.
“I explained the background to tennis coach, Paul, and Ewan started the short session of tennis lessons that summer. I watched how Paul and his wife, and coach Tracy took the time to explain everything, how they encouraged him with every shot, even praising his effort when he missed.
“He didn’t need any special racket, he just went in his shorts and trainers, and he loved every second of it,” said the proud mum.
“Since then we have seen his love of tennis develop over the last few years,” told Kerry.
“He looks forward to every lesson and practices against the wall at home when he’s outside. He may not be the next Andy Murray, but it doesn’t matter to him or to me. He has found a form of exercise that he really enjoys.
“His hand to eye co-ordination has improved massively and this is as a direct result of the work that the coaches put in with Ewan.”
Now Ewan’s love of tennis has branched out into the rest of the family. His sister Evie recently started regular tennis classes and mum Kerry has even lifted a racket and stepped on to the court.
Kerrie admits: “I met a lovely bunch of people from all walks of life. Every one of us leaves the class feeling energised, exhausted but having had a genuinely enjoyable hour of sport.”
COACH IS SO PROUD OF EWAN
Speaking about Ewan, his tennis coach Paul Logan said: “Ewan is treated no different to any of the other kids we have invovled with the Causeway Community Club.
Anyone who has a love for tennis is welcome - no matter what age or ability.
“We are all so delighted with Ewan’s progress.
“Tennis a sport that is inclusive - no matter what you disability, we can cater for you.
“During our recent Diversity Day we had the Ulster wheelchair team taking part in a display - it really inspired others to get involved with the sport”, told Paul.
“As a coach I get a real buzz out of seeing children progress and grow in confidence through sport.
“We are delighted that more and more families in the Causeway area are getting involved - and that’s what it is all about,” said the proud tennis coach.