Rising tennis star Wendelken aiming for more success

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Harry Wendelken has his sights set on a place in his first Junior Wimbledon after making a fine start to the year on the court.

The Horseheath teen enjoyed a fine February, first claiming his first junior ITF tournament win in Hamburg, before helping lead Great Britain to the 16 & Under Tennis Europe Winter Cup by HEAD title.

And now the 15-year-old is hoping to maintain his recent success and qualify for a junior Grand Slam for the first time later this year, with a place in the Boys’ Singles at Wimbledon this summer firmly included in his targets.

“My goal has changed now,” he said. “I know what I can do and what I can achieve.

“I was very pleased with my junior ITF win. Obviously with it being the first junior ITF tournament I’d won, it was quite a big achievement for me.

“I think as I was only seeded 11th for the tournament I was taking on bigger, stronger players than me, but I managed to do well and win it.

“I’m hoping to get my ranking up and qualify for junior Wimbledon, which would be my first Grand Slam.”

After beginning his new year on the junior ITF circuit with a run to the semi-finals of the SALK Open, in Bromma, Sweden, in January, Wendelken headed to Germany for his latest tournament on the tour last month.

Straight sets wins over France’s Mathys Erhard (6-1, 6-3) and Italian fifth seed Guido Marson (7-5, 6-2) put the Team GB star into the quarter-finals, where he took on the number one seed Bastien Presuhn, of Germany.

“I beat the number one seed (6-2, 3-6, 7-5) in the quarter-finals, who had beaten me a few weeks previously in Sweden, so I got revenge for that one,” Wendelken recalls.

In the semi-finals, Wendelken dropped the first set to fourth seed Alexandros Skorilas to love, but fought back in the next two sets to topple the Greek 0-6, 6-0, 6-2 and progress to his first junior ITF final.

“I was very nervous for the final (against Hungary’s Lenard Soha),” he said.

“I made a poor start and went 5-1 down in the first set, but I managed to come back and win it (7-6).

“The nerves got to me a bit but I took a lot of belief and confidence from winning the first set.

“I hit the ball more freely, I was more pumped up and showed more emotion on the court and managed to win (7-6, 2-6, 6-2).”

After a brief return to the UK, the Culford School pupil headed to France for the finals of the Tennis Europe Winter Cup, where he teamed up with Jacob Fearnley and James Story to form the Great Britain team.

In the quarter-finals, Wendleken recorded what he described as the “best win of my career” in beating Russia’s Timofey Skatov, ranked fourth in the Tennis Europe Boys rankings, 0-6, 7-5, 7-5.

A 3-0 win over a strong Russian side put Team GB into the semi-finals, where they overcame home favourites France 2-1, in a tie which saw Wendelken endure mixed fortunes, losing in the singles to Baptiste Anselmo (4-6, 4-6), but teaming up with Story to beat Anselmo and Valentin Royer 6-7(1), 6-4, 10-4 in the doubles.

Wendleken then edged a three-setter against Gauthier Onclin 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to help Team GB seal a 3-0 win against Belgium in the final, a result which handed Great Britain their third Winter Cup title, following on from victories in 1993 and 2011.