Macclesfield’s Ben Nicol insists he will never forget his outing at the All England Club after starring in front of former British No.1 Tim Henman as part of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge Finals.
The 14-year-old Fallibroome Academy pupil booked himself a spot at SW19 by triumphing in the Regional Finals at Ilkley but was knocked out in the group stages at the iconic venue after three defeats from three matches.
HSBC Road to Wimbledon is Britain’s largest grass court tournament, involving more than 10,000 youngsters each year.
And, despite failing to follow in Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray’s footsteps by lifting silverware at SW19 this year, Nicol admitted his outing at the All England Club was certainly the highlight of his summer.
“It was my first time there and it was amazing, I can’t believe that there are 18 match courts here,” he said.
“Waking up on the first morning, I was very excited to be playing on those courts, they are great quality and very well maintained.
“It was very special to be there, especially with Centre Court so close and all the professionals practice there on those courts so it is great to be able to follow in their footsteps.
“To play on the same courts that the professional players have played on is very exciting. Tim Henman has promoted the tournament very well , especially as he is an ambassador.
“It was great to see Tim Henman, he’s known all over the world.”
HSBC Road to Wimbledon offers youngsters the chance to meet their tennis heroes and inspire the next generation of Wimbledon stars to take their tennis careers ‘from the back garden to Centre Court’, while it also supports the Wimbledon Foundation through the Ticket Resale Scheme – with the bank matching donations made by the public.
And on Monday Nicol, who trains at Riverside Tennis Club, got the chance to meet former British No.1 and HSBC Tournament Ambassador Henman while playing at Wimbledon.
The former world number four said: “There’s 10,000 kids every year with the Road to Wimbledon and it’s great to see how the standard has improved over the years,” said Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.
“There’s some really good young players and it’s a great carrot for the youngsters to realise they’ve got this opportunity of coming to play at Wimbledon.
“HSBC has been a proud investor in grassroots tennis around the world since 2008 and the ‘Road To Wimbledon’ National 14 and Under Challenge forms a key part of this investment in grassroots tennis in the UK.”
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