WOMEN’S world winner Lea Van Der Zwalmen and Malvern College director of sport Chey West head a strong entry for the British Women's Rackets Doubles Championships on Sunday.

Just seven years ago, hosts Malvern College staged the first women's challenge in the sport which is the ancient forerunner of squash and one of the world’s fastest ball games.

Now women’s rackets is thriving both at national and schools level.

Two seasons ago, West, a sporting all-rounder who also excels in hockey, cricket and athletics, won the British doubles crown with Van Der Zwalmen.

Her 21-year-old team-mate was a French squash international who began playing rackets at Clifton College.

It was West’s first national rackets title and she is keen to score another victory on her home courts at Malvern even though she and the world champion have different partners this time.

West will play with the big-hitting teenager Fionnuala Dowling-Membrado from Cheltenham College

Both pairs face a talented line-up of rising stars from Queen’s Club and co-ed rackets-playing schools.

Among them are the national schools junior champions Lauren Gooding and Issie Thorneycroft from Wellington College plus the senior champions India Blake and Rose Jones from Cheltenham College who are fielding three pairs.

West said: “I’m really encouraged to see women’s rackets thriving and particularly proud that Malvern College is pioneering this fantastic sport.

"I’ve got really hooked on rackets and I play and train regularly on the college courts, coached by our rackets professional Noel Brett.

"I also mentor and encourage our young players, boys and girls, and we have several talented youngsters who’ll be in action during next month’s National Schools Championships at Queen’s Club in London plus an enthusiastic group of girls who are learning to play this very demanding sport and loving it.

"They’ve absorbed my motto ‘You never lose, you either win or you learn — or even better both!’"