Ben misses out on trip to Wimbledon
MACCLESFIELD tennis starlet Ben Nicol admits watching this year’s Wimbledon is made all the more difficult after he fell just short of strutting his stuff at the world famous venue.
As the likes of British No.1 Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams show what they can do at this year’s Wimbledon, Nicol had the chance to follow suit as he competed in the HSBC Road to Wimbledon Northern Regional Qualifier at the Ilkley Tennis Club in Yorkshire.
The 13-year-old – who trains at the USN Bolton Arena – was playing for a spot at August’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club.
But, despite falling short of a memorable outing at the famous SW19 courts this time around, Fallibroome Academy pupil Nicol is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him after losing out to eventual winner Barney Fitzpatrick in the first round.
“I could have played a little better in the first set, but I was a lot more solid in the second and I did well,” he said.
“He’s quite a strong hitter so I did well to stay in the match for as long as I did and get my shots back.
“Tournaments like this are good because you can learn a lot and get valuable experience from playing some of the best players around.
“I’d maybe like to be a professional when I’m older, if I get good enough, but I want to keep enjoying playing for now.
“I love watching Novak Djokovic because of his ability, his agility and his attitude on the court, so I’ll be supporting him and Andy Murray at Wimbledon.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & under Challenge began in 2002 and is the largest junior tournament in the UK, involving some 850 clubs, parks and schools with youngsters bidding to reach the national final at the All England Club.
And, although Nicol failed to advance to Wimbledon, former British No.1 Tim Henman believes he is still very much one to watch out for in the future.
“Players are always disappointed when they miss out on qualifying for the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National Final and a chance to play on the grass courts at Wimbledon,” said Henman.
“Hopefully Ben will be spurred on to greater achievements in his junior career, and who knows maybe even to play at The Championships as a professional player in the future.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge is the UK’s largest national junior grass court tournament and forms part of HSBC’s investment in the stars of the future.
●● Ben Nicol