Ace Nicol all set for Wimbledon
MACCLESFIELD tennis starlet Ben Nicol admits he is pinching himself in amazement as he prepares to follow in Andy Murray’s footsteps and star at Wimbledon.
As the likes of British No 1 Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams get their Wimbledon assault started this week, Nicol can rest safe in the knowledge that he also has a spot booked at the worldfamous venue.
The 14-year-old Fallibroome Academy pupil has long been known as one to watch for the future, and he was at it again on Sunday as he claimed victory at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon North Regional Qualifier at Ilkley Tennis Club in West Yorkshire.
Nicol, who trains at Bolton Arena, 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 he 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 Nicol admits he can’t wait to grace the hallowed turf himself.
“I am feeling really excited to play at Wimbledon and I am so proud of myself,” said Nicol, who dreams of turning professional like his idol Rafael Nadal.
“I feel I had control of all my games so I am really happy to be through to the national finals.
“I’m going to be playing on the famous courts that all the professional players use so I’m really excited.
“It was such a good incentive to play in this tournament, and it will be very different to play on those famous courts rather than just seeing them on television.
“I have watched Roger Federer play at Wimbledon twice and it is a very inspiring place.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge, the UK’s largest grass court tournament, forms part of HSBC’s investment in grassroots tennis; an area of the sport the Official Banking Partner of The Championships has been supporting since 2008.
Each year over 10,000 youngsters take part in the series of national tennis tournaments, 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 Judy 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 culminates 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 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 but for most people they 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. @HSBC_sport
●● Macclesfield tennis starlet Ben Nicol