Ben misses out on trip to Wim­ble­don

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH - TEN­NIS JACK MILLER

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

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