TWO highly talented South Ayrshire tennis players tasted medal glory on the biggest stage of their careers.

Prestwick Tennis and Fitness Club members Jack Dickson and Frances Smiley were in Abu Dhabi competing in the Special Olympics last week. They were up against some of the best players in the world and walked away with major success.

Jack, from Troon, won a gold medal in the Men’s Singles competition, along with a bronze in the Men’s Doubles event. Prestwick’s Frances collected silver in the Ladies Singles and finished fourth in the Ladies Doubles.

The triumphs are the biggest so far for the gifted duo.

Frances suffers from dyspraxia, a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) affecting motor coordination in children and adults. Jack has autism.

Coach Dominic Iannotti, who has worked with both players, is delighted with their successes.

He said: “Both players have come through the junior programme - they come to the club once or twice a week and go to Glasgow for a day a week.

“Their selection was based on their results and how much they have been training.

“It has been an absolute honour for me to part of both their journeys and I am absolutely over the moon at their achievements. I said before they left if they got a medal I would be over the moon. The fact that the got a gold and a silver shows what is achievable. I am so proud of them both. They are a great inspiration to players in the club and this is the biggest event they have played in.

“Hopefully their successes will inspire other young people to get into tennis.

“It’s a great achievement. I met Jack a year or so ago and worked with him as part of my apprenticeship. Frances I have known for a long time, and she has improved a lot over the past few months.

“The Special Olympics are a good stage to compete in. Tennis has evolved and we have more Learning Disability Tennis. There is a lot more awareness about disability now than five or 10 years ago.”

Dominic, who also has a learning disability, has himself been successful and won two gold medals in the last two years in the elite level of the sport, Inas.