Junior tennis quartet earn ticket to Wimbledon
Four of China’s most promising young tennis players will be setting foot onto the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon this August after they emerged tops in the recent Road to Wimbledon China tournament, held as part of events that marked the introduction of the Road to Wimbledon program in the country.
Road to Wimbledon is a grassroots program that is run by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC). It was founded in the United Kingdom in 2002 to help develop tennis players aged 14 and under. It later expanded to India in 2014 before making its way to China this year.
Luo Shuai, Zheng Zhan, Yao Xinxing and Xiao Zhenghua, the top boys and girls of the competition, were part of a group of 16 young Chinese players who were selected to attend an 11-day camp at the Chinese tennis legend
Tennis Academy of China in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province from May 14 to 24.
Paul Hutchins, the tournament director for Road to Wimbledon, spent a few days with these Chinese players and was impressed with their behavior, saying no tantrums were thrown and that they played their game with respect and a positive attitude.
He also discovered that the girls adopted a more offensive approach as compared to their male counterparts. He added that junior players from Asia, especially the boys, usually have very defensive play styles.
“There is a term in tennis called ‘hacking’ and it describes a defensive style of play. I am pleased that Chinese girls are not ‘hackers’. Rather, they like to go on the offense and this is a good thing. The way the game is played at the top levels these days is very offensive,” said Hutchins.
Chinese tennis legend Li Na, who retired in 2014, was also at the camp to lead a coaching clinic and a coach education workshop. There was also a best-in-class junior tennis program led by Wimbledon head coach Dan Bloxham and former UK tennis great Jeremy Bates.
“The Road to Wimbledon program is a big step for tennis and junior tennis in China,” said Li, who is now working on establishing her own tennis school.
The Road to Wimbledon program is a big step for tennis and junior tennis in China.”
China's tennis icon Li Na poses with young players at a Road to Wimbledon event in Nanjing