It was game, set and match for a West Norfolk schoolgirl at the weekend when she stepped out on the tennis world stage – as Roger Federer’s mascot.
Young tennis fan Isla Filmer led out the Swiss star in front of TV cameras and thousands of spectators at the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday.
The eight-year-old from Reffley, who attends South Wootton Junior School, took it all in her stride, smiling confidently as she walked out hand-in-hand with Federer before the start of his match against Novak Djokovic.
Mum Melanie Filmer, who was sat in the audience, said: “I’m just so, so proud of her. She was just beaming away.”
Isla got the chance of a lifetime after family friend Paul Logan won tickets to the finals through event sponsor Barclays. There were two adult tickets and one child, with the child being given the opportunity to be a mascot on the day.
As Mr Logan and his wife Lucy’s one-and-a-half-year-old child was too young to be mascot, he said Lucy could go with someone else.
“The mascot had to be between age six and 11, so luckily Lucy picked me and Isla,” said Mrs Filmer.
“Myself and Lucy are quite big tennis fans and we went to Wimbledon together earlier this year.”
Isla went backstage with organisers when they arrived at the O2, and they didn’t know who she was going to be a mascot for until she walked out with Federer.
“We weren’t sure if it was going to be for the doubles final or singles, until she came out,” said Mrs Filmer.
“She took it all in her stride, it didn’t phase her at all.
“I don’t think she realises the enormity of it all at the moment, but I’m sure she will in a few years’ time. I doubt she’ll ever get to experience something like that again, it was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Isla’s dad Carl got to watch her appearance on TV at home with the couple’s other tennis-mad daughter Alyssa, four.
In the final, Federer was beaten in straight sets by Djokovic, who claimed his fourth straight ATP World Tour finals title. The world number one from Serbia broke serve three times to win 6-3, 6-4 in 80 minutes.
The world’s top eight singles players and eight doubles teams of the season qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals, which are formerly known as the Tennis Masters Cup.