SAM Clarke is swapping the South Lakes for the Great Lakes after signing a tennis scholarship in America.

The 17-year-old, a pupil at Kirkbie Kendal School, has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the University of Illinois, Springfield.

Clarke, who is also a member of both Kendal and Heversham tennis clubs, opted to commit to the 'Prairie Stars' of UIS as it offers him both the best developmental pathway for his tennis, while also providing him with a highly regarded degree from the world ranked University of Illinois.

He had considered approaches from 16 various NCAA Division 1, 2 and 3 teams.

Clarke, who has been coached by Jon Griffin for 12 years, will work with the new Head Coach, (a native of Kidderminster), to build the team into Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship contenders over the next four years.

He is expected to play at number one or two singles in the six man team next year and will get the opportunity to play against nationally ranked players on a regular basis.

"He is no stranger to team tennis, having played at number one singles for the Cumbria U18s county cup team in Wrexham in March and will play for the Cumbria men’s team in Cheshire just before he heads to Illinois," said dad Nigel.

"Kirkbie Kendal School’s teachers have worked with Sam to enable him to successfully balance his A-level academic studies alongside the demands of his tennis training at Bolton International High Performance Centre and regular tournament play throughout Britain."

He also plays for Bolton Arena in the U18s Aegon National Premier League.

When he makes the trip to the University of Illinois, Clarke will join four Americans, two Spaniards, one German and one Indian on the UIS roster in August and hopes to major in Business at the end of his four years in America.

Clarke has risen to 160 in the British men's rankings after winning the men’s Wirral open and was runner-up in the men’s North of England Open Championships over Easter.