Dominique living the Wimbledon dream
Young starlet claims victory at south-east regional qualifier TENNIS
As the likes of British number one Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams got their SW19 campaigns under way this week, Olaleye was resting safe in the knowledge that she also has a spot booked at the world-famous venue.
The 14-year-old Northwood College pupil has long been known as one to watch for the future and she was at it again as she claimed victory at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon south-east regional qualifier.
She was competing at West Worthing Lawn Tennis Club, which had been converted to look like Wimbledon and where Judy Murray held a training session with the players in attendance.
Olaleye will now play in the National Finals of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club between August 8 and 13, where Murray will be looking to walk away overall champion of the tournament.
Murray made history at Wimbledon back in 2013 when he became the first British winner of the Grand Slam in 77 years, and Olaleye admits she cannot wait to grace the hallowed turf himself after beating Charlotte Imbert in her final qualifying match.
Olaleye said: “I am really pleased with how things went for me because I was not expecting to do this well because I have not played in many tournaments recently.
“I played at Wimbledon last year for my county and it didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I am hoping to do better this time and it is a dream come true to be playing there again.
“I really enjoyed playing in the Road to Wimbledon competition and it is great to have the opportunity to play on grass and have the prize of making it to Wimbledon.
“I am hoping I can now win the competition. I will certainly try my best.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge, the UK’s largest grass court tourn tournament, forms part of H HSBC’s investment in grass grassroots tennis, an area of th the sport the Official Bank Banking Partner of The Cham Championships has been supp supporting since 2008.
Ea Each year, more than 10,00 10,000 youngsters take part in the series of natio national tennis tournamen ments, helping to inspire the next generation of Wimbledon stars to take their tennis careers from the back garden to Centre Court.
And after watching the action for herself at the south-east regional qualifier, HSBC ambassador and former Scottish international tennis player Murray was impressed with what she saw from the crop of 2016.
“The HSBC Road to Wimbledon is a wonderful grassroots programme which more than 10,000 youngsters take part in each year and culminatess in the chance to play at Wimbledon, which is every young tennis players’ dream and inspires them every year,” Murray said.
“This programme is a very big part of the British tennis calendar and youngsters recognise the HSBC Road to Wimbledon as a tournament that offers a prize to play at Wimbledon. This prize is a real incentive to enter and do their very best est to make it to the final stage.
“Going along and receiving coaching on how to hit the ball properly is one thing, but competitive opportunities at a young age need to be fun and stimulating because you want them to enjoy the sport and keep coming back. In my opinion it doesn’t get more stimulating than the ultimate prize of being able to play at Wimbledon.
“Wimbledon is one of those places that is on most people’s bucket list or it is their dream to go there,h b but f for most peoplel theyh are only able to see it on the television so the HSBC Road to Wimbledon is creating a wonderful opportunity for kids across the country.”
HSBC is the Official Banking Partner of The Championships and is committed to supporting grassroots tennis, helping to inspire the next generation of Wimbledon stars to take their tennis careers from the back garden to Centre Court through the HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge.
n ‘REALLY PLEASED’: (Clockwise from above) Dominique Olaleye, Serena Williams, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic