Sports equipment used by Olmypic champion auctioned off thanks to Exmouth schoolgirl
PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 December 2018
Sports equipment used at the 2016 Olympics was auctioned off for charity after a heart-felt appeal by an Exmouth schoolgirl.
Nine-year-old Isabelle Marks was told she had a ‘big heart’ by American tennis star Bethanie Mattek-Sands after the Beacon Primary School pupil won a social media competition for a sports bag from the Rio games.
Isabelle, her brother Benjamin and her mum Charlotte Howes responded to Bethanie’s Instagram giveaway with a video filmed at the LED Tennis and Fitness Centre, in Withycombe Village Road.
The family were ‘shocked and amazed’ to discover they had won the competition and the bag was auctioned off at the centre for Children in Need.
Charlotte said: “She is quite a big character.
“So she said ‘be different’ so we had this idea as the tennis centre has this auction for Children in Need.
“We were shocked and amazed when we won (the giveaway) .
“We couldn’t believe it.”
The bag went at auction for £125 and the winning bid came from Arron Marks – Isabelle’s dad.
The auction itself raised more than £3,400 overall for Children in Need.
“We (me and her dad) had discussed bidding for the bag and set a limit of how much we would be willing to spend but we also told her it wasn’t a guarantee she would win it.
“We didn’t expect to get it.
“Izzy was massively shocked.
“When we opened the bag it was a really an ‘oh my god’ moment,” Charlotte told the Journal.
In her video to current the US Open mixed-doubles champion, Isabelle asked for Bethanie to include ‘a little something’ in the bag for her.
When they opened the bag they found a number of items inside, including two T-shirts Bethanie had worn during her Fed Cup matches.
Izzy, who has set her sights on emulating her new-found hero, has been playing tennis regularly since the age of five and attends the tennis centre up to five times a week.
Her mum set up an Instagram account as a way of raising Izzy’s profile and possibly gaining sponsorship for her lessons and soon gained a follow from Bethanie after a number of tennis-related photos were posted by Izzy’s mum.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands, from Phoenix, Arizona, has won five Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles and three in mixed doubles. Together with Jack Sock she beat Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram to claim Gold in Rio.