January 2011. In front of a packed house at Wembley Arena, a young goalkeeper is carried on the shoulders of her Bowdon Hightown team mates. Amy Tennant, then aged just 16, is the hero of the hour. Her save from Reading’s Emma Thomas in a dramatic 9-8 penalty shootout win hands the Seahorses the Super Sixes title.
“At the time I didn’t really take it all in.” says Tennant. “I was still a grumpy teenager and in a way I didn’t understand the magnitude of it. In hindsight I wish I’d taken in the occasion a bit more and enjoyed it. I didn’t really do that.”
Nine years on, Tennant is a full international. Before all hockey activity was halted due to the global coronavirus pandemic she was competing with Maddie Hinch and Sabbie Heesh for the Great Britain No1 shirt. Her experiences as a youngster in goal for Bowdon have undoubtedly stood her in good stead as she turns out on the international stage.
“Generally I’m quite laid back but being exposed to a big final at such a young age was definitely a valuable experience, especially as a goalie, you don’t sometimes get that till you’re older.”
It’s hard not to like Tennant. She has an infectious personality, is always quick to make a joke and despite scaling the highs of national titles whilst still in her teens, her feet are firmly on the ground.
She learned her trade at Bowdon Hightown, a club with a proud history of blooding young players and giving them their chance at the top level.
“I was really lucky to play at a club with the first team at the level it was. They offered me the pathway to play at the top level which was amazing for me at such a young age. I’ll always be grateful for what they did for me.”
Playing for Bowdon afforded Tennant the chance to work with the legendary Tina Cullen – one of the finest goalscorers this country has ever seen. Cullen’s role in her development, although the young goalkeeper didn’t know it at the time, was crucial:
“I knew what a good player Tina was because she’d just bash goals past me every week. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s so humble and I probably didn’t realise her influence on me as a person and as a player until I was a bit older. She’s so kind, she’s fun and she’s an absolute legend.”
After representing her country at the junior age group levels Tennant finished university and headed to Germany to play for Grossflotbeker Hockey Club in Hamburg. She admits she “didn’t really know what else to do” but also that the high level of training and matches really helped her to improve as a player. It wasn’t long before she was flying back from Germany on a regular basis to train in the Great Britain central programme. With Hinch taking a break and Heesh injured, Tennant took her chance and made her debut in South Africa.
“The first cap passed me by a bit. It was a very proud moment and probably a bit of a surreal one. I went through the age groups and I remember being told at 15 “only a few of you will make it to the seniors.” When you get there, you think “how have I ended up here?” It was amazing, though.”
With both her goalkeeping rivals back, Tennant faces fierce competition for the No1 jersey. It’s not a challenge she finds daunting, however.
“It’s unique to team sport where you’re competing to a high level and goalkeepers in particular where you’re really head to head. It’s a bit funny but we all just get used to it. We know the boundaries; we know when it’s time to compete and when to support each other so it generally works very well.”
“I’m pushing for Tokyo, long term I want to be the best goalie in the world and hopefully I can be a nice person along the way.”
Amy Tennant is a Mercian sponsored athlete, using the Evolution Pro GK range. For more information on Mercian visit the website.