Horseheath teen aims to make his mark at top of tennis world
While the likes of Sir Andy Murray and Johanna Konta have been representing the Brits in the Australian Open over the past fortnight, there is a Horseheath teen making his own mark on the tennis scene.
Harry Wendelken, 15, is in the early stages of a journey which he hopes will see him reach the top of the sport.
The teenager, who is part of Culford School’s High Performance Tennis Programme, enjoyed breakthrough success last year and is aiming to achieve even more.
“I’m probably most proud of winning the Under-14s Nationals last year,” Wendelken said.
“It’s quite an important tournament for me, and obviously it shows as I won it, I’m the best in my age group.
“All the tournaments I’ve won were good, but that was probably my favourite one.”
Wendelken has spent the last 18 months playing on the ITF Junior Circuit, which pits the best junior tennis players aged 18 and under from around the world against each other.
Earlier this month, he recorded his best singles run on the tour, reaching the semi-finals of the SALK Open in Sweden.
At the end of each year the tour crowns a junior world champion, a title which was previously won by Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Ivan Lendl.
“I was in Sweden two weeks ago and I did very well there,” Wendelken said.
“I got to my first semi-final of an ITF, so hopefully I can get my ranking up.
“I’ve got the Winter Cup for GB coming up too. I just want to improve, get better and see how it goes.”
Chris Johnson, who is a performance tennis coach at Culford School and works with Wendelken on his game, says it is not an easy journey to get to the top and explains the sacrifices the youngster is making already.
“He will do 15 to 16 hours on court, plus five to eight hours off court a week,” he said. “That’s quite a big chunk of his week, plus the academics as well. The academics is obviously very important. It is still very early in his journey but the hardest thing is getting the balance right.
“Harry is out playing tournaments abroad 10 to 15 weeks a year which is quite a big commitment.
“He’s getting help from the teachers to catch up with school work, they’re a big help.
He continued: “He’s missing lots of weeks out travelling and it’s not easy for him. As he gets older and gets better, everything just gets harder.
“There will be more commitment, more sacrifices to make, everything ramps up.”