TURNDITCH tennis starlet Noah Humphreys will not forget his outing at the All England Club in a hurry, despite missing out on Road to Wimbledon National 14 and under Challenge Finals glory.
After triumphing at the previous County Finals, the David Lloyd Derby youngster took to Wimbledon’s famous grass courts last week looking to be crowned national champion.
And while unable to better two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in getting his hands on a title at SW19, Humphreys, 13, insists it has onlyfuelled his desire to come back to the iconic venue again to play one day.
“It was so exciting to be able to play at Wimbledon,” he said. “I was here earlier in the summer watching the Championships and it’s amazing to have been able to play on the same courts I saw the professionals use.
“I was happy to qualify because I didn’t make it last year, so that was a nice feeling.
“The grass courts are amazing — it takes a lot of getting used to but I’ve learnt a lot by being here and hopefully that’ll help me going forward.”
The Road to Wimbledon began in 2002 and has continued to expand, initially to India in 2014 before heading to China, Hong Kong and, most recently, Japan.
More than 7,000 juniors participate across England, Scotland and Wales, starting in club, park or school events before qualifying for the Countyfinals and then to National Finals at Wimbledon.
Former British number one Tim Henman was also in attendance for finals day, impressed with what he saw from the country’s next generationof tennis stars.
“It’s very specal for the young people to get to play on grass at Wimbledon,” he said. “There’s a huge legacy element to that and for the Championships to be promoting grass court tennis is important and that’s what makes it memorable.”
The Road to Wimbledon is a joint initiative between the All England Club and the LTA. There are two strands, County and Regional/International, which sees players in the 14 and under age group compete to earn the right to play at the Road to Wimbledon National Finals on the grass courts of The All England Club.