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Agenda: Wimbledon buzz a thrill for radio presenter; Sports-mad Sam Lloyd feels privileged to be covering the world's most famous tennis tournament.

Byline: DARREN DEVINE

SAM LLOYD has beaten a familiar path trodden by many a frustrated sports professional.

Unable to turn her passion for tennis into the sort of lucrative career that sees the top professionals earning millions every year, she has done the next best thing.

She talks a great game, so great she has been presenting Radio Wimbledon for the past five years. With a rugby professional and sports-mad father, David Lloyd, Sam's sporting education started in early childhood.

Her mother Yvonne was also a keen sports fan who would take Sam to Wimbledon every year.

Born in Swansea, she later moved with the family between Ross-on-Wye and Carmarthen. Between the ages of 13 and 18 she attended Haberdashers Monmouth School for Girls, which she remembers as an extremely sporty environment.

She was a weekly boarder who took great pride in her involvement in the net-ball team and coaching the younger girls.

``Ever since I was a child - I'm an only child and a bit of tomboy - I was always taken with dad to watch Swansea's rugby matches on a Saturday.

``As a child I remember being taken to the Ryder Cup, to Wentworth World Match Play and other major sporting events that we would attend as a family.

``After going to the World Match Play as a kid in the early '90s I ended up covering it for IRN, which was really nice.

``I got the buzz at a very young age and at school I used to love competing in sports, and I always knew that's whatI wanted to get involved in. ``I didn't compete at anything like county or national level, but I used to coach the younger kids netball and lacrosse when I was a sixth-former.''

Sam, who now lives in Cardiff, has retained her active involvement in sport into adulthood.

``I swim, I go to the gym regularly and play tennis socially.''

Sam, 28, believes the patriotic fervour surrounding Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski at this year's Wimbledon has been given an added edge by England's progression to the World Cup quarter-finals.

``It's been quite interesting to be up here. We all started Wimbledon thinking it would be overshadowed by the football.

``But with England bowing out, a lot of notnecessarily ardent tennis fans suddenly turn their attention to what is happening with the Brits at Wimbledon. ``The Brits are always full of optimism and we are experiencing a Golden Jubilee year and everyone is really proud of how the team performed in the World Cup.

``It's a great summer for British sport and we are so desperate to have another champion.

``But the football hasn't overshadowed Wimbledon and there has still been very much a carnival atmosphere.''

Sam is part of a group of freelance journalists employed by the All England Club to provide a service that can be accessed on the local FM frequency.

The station broadcasts 14 hours every day throughout the championships, with Sam presenting from 8am to noon and 4pm until 7pm.

Sam's morning spot involves studio guests and experts looking ahead to the coming day's play and examining the major talk-ing points to come out of the previous day.

``It's a very informative all-speech fourhour programme and we basically interview not just the players but everyone involved in Wimbledon, from catering to the head groundsman.''

From 4pm to 7pm Sam anchors the programme and goes from one court to the next receiving updates from reporters. Later this year she is covering the US Open Tennis Championships in New York for ESPN Star Sports.

Despite five years of globe-trotting to cover major sporting events, the privilege of her position is not lost on Sam.

She said, ``It's such a great feeling when you come to SW19 on the Sunday on the eve of the tournament and you just soak in the atmosphere.

``As a sporting event Wimbledon has everything so right: they are constantly developing the buildings and the facilities for people coming in to watch the tournament.

``Everyone in the world knows about Wimbledon and it's an absolutely fantastic occasion to be part of, and for that reason I do feel very privileged.''

Sam, who graduated with a degree in Journalism, Film and Broadcasting from Cardiff University, started her career as a motoring correspondent for radio, covering rally championships.

She now also covers sports news for HTV, including the Heineken Cup rugby and the Six Nations, while last March she reported from the richest horse race in the world, the Dubai World Cup.

Next month she will cover the World Rally Championship in Finland and the US Open tennis championship in New York.

In September she will report from the Rally of San Remo in Italy, before moving on to the Ryder Cup.

Globe-trotting

SAM'S work has taken her to Kenya, Argentina and New Zealand, and in terms of travelling she has few ambitions left.

Her partner Jamie Knights, 28, is a cameraman, who runs his own camera crew company, in Birmingham.

The couple met while covering the World Rally Championships three years ago.

``We're both very ambitious and we spend a lot of time travelling. He comes down to Cardiff when he is not working and he regards my house as a second home.''

CAPTION(S):

ANYONE FOR TENNIS? Sports presenter Sam Lloyd loves the atmosphere generated at Wimbledon
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 4, 2002
Words:892
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