HENLEY tennis player Harrison Ridge experienced the thrill of a lifetime on Saturday as he joined former British number one
HENLEY tennis player Harrison Ridge experienced the thrill of a lifetime on Saturday as he joined former British number one Tim Henman at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 and Under Challenge Finals.
The 14-year-old, who qualified for Wimbledon after winning the Oxfordshire county final, picked up two wins over James Wilkinson and Alexander Ross in his group stage before going down 7-5, 6-2 to eventual semi-finalist Matthew Summers in the knockout stages.
The Henley Tennis Club player revealed that arriving as a player at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this year was certainly the highlight of his summer. He said: “I had heard of the Road to Wimbledon tournament but didn’t really know a great deal about it so when I won the county final and found out I had qualified to play at Wimbledon I was gobsmacked.
“And then having played on the grass here now it was a fantastic experience and mind-blowing to think of the great players that use these courts every year for Wimbledon. I wanted to get through to the knockout rounds and I played well in my three group matches but all in all I am pleased and it was such a great experience and definitely will help me improve.
“I had been playing quite well this summer and looking ahead I want to improve my serve in terms of the power and variety and playing on grass helps you do that.”
Some 20,000 children from all over Britain competed throughout the summer in pursuit of following in the footsteps of Andy Murray by playing at Wimbledon, with the top 128 boys and girls earning the chance to compete at the national finals.
Ridge also got the chance to meet former British number one Tim Henman an ambassador for HSBC, sponsor of the Road to Wimbledon as he spent time with the players, signed autographs, and posed for photos with the finalists.
“The excitement of coming through the gates is still the same for me. It has the best tennis tournament in the world and it is a huge motivating factor for all the kids,” said Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.
“You see them out here on the grass where the greats of the game played and it is inspiring and that is where Wimbledon plays a huge part in generating the sport’s interest.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 and Under Challenge is the UK’s largest national junior grass court tournament and forms part of HSBC’s investment in the stars of the future.