Dominique liv­ing the Wim­ble­don dream

Young star­let claims vic­tory at south-east re­gional qual­i­fier TEN­NIS

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - By Frank Smith tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­

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

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