Tennis starlet Dylan Smith insisted he could still hold his head up high despite falling just short of a dream outing at Wimbledon.
As the likes of British No.1 Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams prepare for this month’s Wimbledon assault, Baker had the chance to book himself a spot at the world-famous venue as this weekend he competed in the HSBC Road to Wimbledon East Regional Qualifier at Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City.
The 14-year-old Ousedale School pupil was playing for a spot at August’s National Finals of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club, looking to walk away as overall champion of the tournament.
But, despite falling short of a memorable outing at the famous SW19 courts this time around, Milton Keynes Tennis Clubs’ Smith is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him after losing out to Daniel Webb 3-6 5-7 in the final.
“It was pretty close. I would have won if I held my serve better, there would have been a few more free points,” he said.
“I am pleased with how I got on but disappointed I didn’t get through to Wimbledon, although not everyone can.
“It was an intense match and I was unlucky.
“I have been consistently throughout and I did not make too many errors. It’s been a really good tournament and I will learn from it and become a better player.”
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