Ace Ni­col all set for Wim­ble­don

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH - PIPPA FIELD

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

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