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Tennis Player Talks Weight-Shaming Experience

A youth tennis player is telling her story after she says she was criticized for her weight by her coach during a recent national team trip.

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NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A youth tennis player is telling her story after she says she was criticized for her weight by her coach during a recent national team trip to El Salvador.

Jared Higgs sat down with her and has this report.



14-year-old Rachel Thompson started playing tennis when she was seven-years-old.
Her world came crashing down after a recent national team trip to El Salvador where Thompson played under a new coach.

The 14-year-old, who was 13 during the trip last month, was discouraged after she says her coach, Paula Whitfield, seemed to judge her on her appearance, and not on her playing ability.
She says comments were made about her weight.

Thompson says coach Whitfield picked players for their matches who she perceived to be their strongest players.

Even when The Bahamas was guaranteed a last place finish, she still did not select Thompson to play. That, coupled with the comments about her weight, left Thompson confused about whether she was playing the right sport.

The treatment on that trip left Thompson discouraged and she didn’t want to go back to practice. After finally confiding in her parents, she got back on the court.

Our News reached out to Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) President Perry Newton, as well as coach Whitfield for response. Whitfield directed us to the BLTA, saying she didn’t wish to respond.

Newton responded to Our News, saying: “We’re still looking into it, and to be honest, we just want to be able to support our players as best as possible. We want our players to strive. We want our players to be encouraged, because nobody can stop a dream.”

Meanwhile, Thompson, a Grand Bahama resident, has bounced back and is in New Providence for the Spring Classic this weekend. She says support from her school, fellow tennis players, coaches and parents has been phenomenal.

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