London, Oct 19: One of Britain's top female tennis coaches was convicted yesterday of molesting a 13-year-old girl student.
Claire Lyte, 29, was found guilty on four of five counts of sexual activity with the child who was a pupil at Britain's specialist LTA Academy. The girl, now 15, cannot be named for legal reasons.
During the two-week trial, the court heard how Lyte had been caught naked and having oral sex with the girl by the girl's mother.
The mother allowed Lyte to continue coaching her daughter because she believed Lyte, who was named Britain's young coach of the year by the LTA in 2001, was a good tennis instructor.
Lyte taught the girl for 10 more months. The girl was then dropped as a pupil because she was not deemed to be a good enough tennis prospect and the mother went to the police, the court heard.
Lyte argued she was the victim of a vindictive mother who had made up the allegations, but the jury at Liverpool Crown Court rejected that argument. She will be sentenced in November.
The case offered insights into what was described as the pushy and ambitious world of junior tennis.
Lyte, once ranked in the top 500 in the world, had to abandon her tennis career after a wrist injury.