Female tennis coach jailed for sex with girl

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LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) A top female tennis coach was jailed for nearly three years today for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl she was training.

Claire Lyte, 29, from the West Midlands, was found guilty last month on four of five counts of sexual activity with the child, now 15.

She was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to two years and nine months in prison and disqualified from working with children.

During the trial, the court heard that the girl's mother found the pair in bed together having sex.

Lyte also wore the girl's underwear and shared a bed with her during tournaments, the jury heard.

The former Wimbledon player started the relationship while working at a prestigious tennis academy in Loughborough in 2005.

Despite being repeatedly warned by managers not to get too close to the girl, Lyte continued seeing her.

In October 2005, she drove the teenager home after a tennis tournament and they ended up in bed. The girl's mother returned home to find them having sex.

She allowed her daughter to continue visiting the tennis academy and it was only 10 months later that a complaint was made to the police.

The coach argued she was the victim of a vindictive mother who had made up the allegations, but the jury rejected that argument.

Lyte was named Britain's young coach of the year by the Lawn Tennis Association in 2001 and was once ranked among the world's top 500 players.

She had to abandon her tennis career after a wrist injury.

REUTERS AB RK1930

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