Horseheath tennis ace Harry Wendelken to compete against men in the M25 Barnstaple next week
Harry Wendelken is ready to test himself when he competes against the men in the GB Pro-Series in the M25 Barnstaple next week, writes Alex Moss.
The Horseheath teenager, who now trains at the Good to Great Tennis Academy, in Sweden, is set to compete in the tournament, which has a prize fund of $25,000.
For Wendelken, it will be a chance to potentially face some of the sport’s professionals, ranked in the top 500 of the ATP.
“If I get in the main draw I could be up against players ranked in the 300s, 400s or 500s,” the 17-year-old said.
“It will be my first time playing in a 25, but I’m feeling quite confident.
“I’m going into it with not a lot of expectations, so I’m hoping I can just play my own game and enjoy the experience.
“It’s my last year playing in the juniors now , so I want to bring my game into the seniors and play in the 25s and 15s.
“I’ll be playing in Grade As and Grade 1s to keep my ranking up and try and push into the top 10 or the top five of the ITF Juniors.”
Next week’s M25 Barnstaple is one of around 600 tournaments under the newly-formed ITF World Tennis Tour, which was launched this year as the new umbrella name for all of the former Pro circuit and Junior circuit events.
The aim of the reform is to help support junior players, like Wendelken, in their progression to the senior game, with the tour to serve as a player pathway between the junior game and the elite level at the top of the sport.
The week-long event, at the Tarka Tennis Centre, in Barnstaple, starts on Monday with qualifying, before the main 32-player draw begins the following day.
Wendelken heads to Barnstaple ranked 34th on the ITF Junior Rankings, having started 2019 with a Grade 3 tournament win in the SALK Open, before reaching the last 32 in the boys’ singles at the Australian Open.
“I had a couple of injuries, minor ones, which set me back a little bit,” Wendelken said.
“It meant I wasn’t as active as I wanted to be, but I started the first week of this year playing in a Grade 3 in Stockholm, which is always good to play a tournament in your hometown.
“It was good to win that and take that into the Australian Open, where I felt I played ok.
“I was playing against tougher opponents, but I feel like I could have played a bit better. It was hard to overcome the nerves, playing in it for the first time, but it was nice to get my first singles win in a Grand Slam. It was a great experience.”
Following his return to the UK this week, Wendelken is then set to travel to Portugal for the M15 Vale Do Lobo (February 18-24), while looking further ahead the teen is setting his sights on a junior Grade A event in Milan in late May, as the final tournament of his preparation before making his debut in the French Open a few weeks later.