REAL Tennis star Ben Taylor-Matthews modestly admitted his outstanding season on the professional circuit has been a “successful” one.

Four semi-finals, one runners-up place and a French Open doubles win with playing partner John Lumley heralded a superb campaign for the Leamington Spa-based ace.

Taylor-Matthews, 34, learnt the indoor game, effectively the tennis version of squash with added complexity, at the Hyde Tennis Club in Walditch as a youngster.

And the Dorset man has since become an established member of the world’s top 10, currently occupying fifth place in the rankings.

Speaking to the Bridport News, Taylor-Matthews emphasised that a desire to “work hard” is key for budding youngsters wishing to take up the game.

He said: “It probably is quite a good year. When I was ranked 10 in the world I was busy fighting to make quarter-finals and you’re always reliant on getting a bonus draw and you never really get one.

“Once you can start breaking into the semi-finals and getting yourself one of the top-four seeds you have to make sure you grab hold of it, otherwise you end up getting stuck in the quarter-finals again.

“I’ve managed to progress quite well this year, so it has been successful.”

He added: “I was still living in Bridport when the court in Walditch got built. There was some media coverage, but I just thought it was a normal indoor tennis court.

“It wasn’t until I went up there as part of A-level PE at Colfox that I realised what real tennis actually was.

“I was just your run-of-the-mill kid who went to state school and got presented with an opportunity. I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

“Now I’m a top-five player in the world and I get to travel all over the world. It is a bit niche, but if you can get into something like that and if you’re prepared to work hard then you can have a pretty nice life.”

Elaborating on his French Open win, Taylor-Matthews described his triumph as “almost the perfect week’ after being beaten in the singles final in straight sets by Chris Chapman.

“It was very nice. I’d actually won the US Open doubles in 2010 so it was my second major win.

“France was a very good week for me. I got to the final of the singles, that was my third Open singles final – unfortunately I haven’t won any yet.

“But I managed to register a straight sets win over the world champion in the semis and then won the doubles so it was almost the perfect week,” he said.

Taylor-Matthews also opened up about his professional career, which has allowed him to travel the world.

He said: “It beats sitting behind a desk! Some of the places that I’ve been able to get to and some of the experiences I’ve had have been amazing.

“I’d never have thought, sitting down doing my GCSEs, that I’d be having dinner at a five-bedroom mansion in the most expensive street in America, that kind of thing.

“I’ve got to do some amazing things off the back of getting into this career, so I’m very grateful.”