With the country caught up in Wimbledon fever over the last fortnight, a Horseheath teen got his own moment in the spotlight as he took to the famous grass courts under the watchful eye of Tim Henman.
Harry Wendelken, 15, was one of a number of teenagers invited to the All England Club on middle Saturday of this year’s Wimbledon to take part in a coaching session with four-time semi-finalist and former British number one Henman.
It came following Wendelken’s success in last year’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon National Finals where he was crowned Under-14 Boys’ Singles and Doubles Champion.
That competition was played on one of the Wimbledon practice courts. But Wendelken took a step up this year, undertaking an hour-long coaching clinic on court 14 — one competed on by professional players at the 2017 Championships.
He also had an audience watching with members of the public settling into their seats ahead of the day’s play, and Wendelken, a pupil at Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds, admitted it had been an experience to savour.
“It was a really good experience to be playing on the grass courts at Wimbledon in front of a fairly big crowd,” he said.
“It was a good atmosphere and good to play in front of Tim Henman and show him what I could do. Hopefully I can be back there in the future.
“I’ve learnt that I need to be on it from the first point, and to try and put aside my nerves.
“I need to think about each point as it comes, and not the next couple of games. I have to stay in the here and now.
“I won both the singles and the doubles of the Road to Wimbledon last year. I thought it was a great experience and good to play on the grass courts.
“This season has been good so far. I played junior Wimbledon qualifiers but unfortunately lost. But hopefully I can come back again.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon is the UK’s largest grass court tournament, involving more than 10,000 youngsters each year.
HSBC offers youngsters the chance to meet their tennis heroes and inspire the next generation of Wimbledon stars to take their tennis careers ‘from the back garden to Centre Court.’
Wendelken and the fellow HSBC Road to Wimbledon Finals winners were also joined by players from the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative with Henman, who was assisted by All England Lawn Tennis Club head coach Dan Bloxham, admitting he had been impressed with the level of talent on display.
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